256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Phillips 6369 419
Since before the weekend, this LP had been scheduled to run today. I had written a small intro last night but then El Reza went and did something brilliant like start a blog entirely devoted to the seriously dope Flying Dutchman imprint! Set up along the same lines as Strata-East Fan Club, Magic Purple Sunshine, The CTI Never Sleeps and my new baby blog the shad shack, it's another more than welcome addition to the growing circle of label-themed discographical blogs. Check it out!
In the meantime, here's the post as it was originally intended to run before hearing the news:
Reza, didn't you leave a comment yesterday mentioning Flying Dutchman? Well, you must have been psychic (seems like there's a lot of that going around these days) since this record was already tapped for today's post. This is another one of the better sets from El Gato during the 70s, which is due in most part to its being recorded prior to the '76 quality control cut-off date. Anything after then...well, you pays your money and you takes your chances. Not much of a gamble on this one and it shouldn't be a surprise either, considering the stellar line up at work. I'll let AMG take it from there...
by Don Snowden
Under Fire is Gato Barbieri in his early-'70s prime, when the Argentinean tenorman's transition from the avant-garde to exploring his South American continental routes still hadn't passed beyond the pale into flaccid fusion. He's joined by a pretty stellar band: his regular pianist Lonnie Liston Smith (before he fuzaked out), Airto Moreira and James Mtume on drums and percussion, the veteran Roy Haynes guesting on "El Parana," a young John Abercrombie on guitar and Stanley Clarke in his young lion-of-acoustic-bass phase. Barbieri floats in the background of "El Parana" before kicking into the song proper at an accelerated tempo.
More than improvising per se, his trademark was the emotionally charged sonic stamp he put on the melody (check the intro to the ballad "Yo Le Canto a la Luna," where Barbieri sounds like he's aiming to blow down walls) that made clichés like "Latin passion and fire" sound like, well, the real deal. It also provides a good counterpoint to the exuberant playing of the group -- Smith's solo shows the impact of his years with Pharoah Sanders, but it's Clarke and the rhythm section that really drive the piece while Abercrombie tosses in fills here and there.
"Antonico" features double-tracked Barbieri and the strongest improvisation (so far) at the end, while Brazilian songwriter Jorge Ben's "Maria Domingas" fades in with a full head of steam thanks to Abercrombie and Clarke dueling over Moreira and Mtume. Barbieri's echoed yelps give way to a deeply lyrical sax melody -- he does a lot of similar dynamic shifts here -- before Abercrombie's guitar comps re-start the up-tempo with Clarke effortlessly loping on as the octave-leaping anchor for Barbieri's searing statement of the theme. "El Sertao" opens with Barbieri squeaks over Smith's echoed Fender Rhodes trills, a Clarke foundation riff, and Abercrombie's comps before Barbieri enters full-force. The music stays light and buoyant before another downtempo shift builds to a climatic coda with Clarke shining.
Even the longer pieces are over before you know it so, although Under Fire doesn't quite match the charged intensity of Fenix or El Pampero, it leaves you wishing for two things. First, that there were outtakes to include here because you never come close to getting tired of the music -- double the music would mean double the fun. And what a shame that Carlos Santana, who was just entering his Devadip phase, never recorded with Barbieri at this point in their careers because that combination had the potential to create some pretty incredible music.
Gato Barbieri - Tenor Sax, Vocals
Lonnie Liston Smith - Piano, Electric Piano
Stanley Clarke - Bass
Roy Haynes - Drums
Airto Moreira - Drums, Percussion
John Abercrombie - Guitar
James M'tume - Percussion
Moulay "Ali" Hafid - Percussion
Producer - Bob Thiele
1 El Parana
2 Yo Le Canto A La Luna
4 Maria Domingas
5 El Sertao
Like Chapter One, this has seen a couple CD reissues but from what we can gather, those are OOP as well. You can catch the funky fusion flak from Soundological HERE or HERE.