Friday, 26 September 2008

Gato Barbieri - Under Fire

Under Fire
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...

AMG Review
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
3 Antonico
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.


Anonymous said...

thanks for the 2 gato records. . great stuff.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the 2 gato records. . great stuff.

Reza said...

Heyy cheeba its all your fault , I only said it as a joke , 24hrs later and its half complete !

Another top album btw thanks for sharing :)

cheeba said...

Oh no, Reza, you ain't pinning this one on me... We all know it's Ish's fault!

And you're more than welcome for the Gato!

Solomon said...

Amazing! Thank you.

Reza said...

cheeba, the red link @ flying dutchman leads here :)

E-mile said...

hi Cheeba, believe it or not, but I have -until now, that includes your 2 El Gato posts as well- not yet heard a record by him that satisfied me....Am I deaf, you'd ask, no (you know I'm not) but let me explain: his sound I find "too exaggerated" - too "in your face", too "without finesse" I dunno... (damn my english vocabulary)but G.O.D, (yes that Generally Overrated Dude) knows I've tried to give him my openest of ears, but NO, it's all too "Steve Vai" for me :-)
for what it's worth, it's my honest opinion, hey think of this: I let you know if I like it, sometimes I let you know if I don't :-)
Peace, E-mile
PS: do you ever check your gmail?
-though I can vageley comprehend you're into some serious time-loss these days :-)
2 words: Allen Ginsberg

cheeba said...

e-mile, i get it for sure! like i said, i've only kept 4 of his LPs over the years. I can give or take most of those too but do love the Chapter One.

yes, i have been trying to check gmail but also moving house this weekend! i will be disconnected tomorrow and won't be reconnected until weds. a couple emails have been drafted for you but havent gota a chance to go back and finish... look for one tonnight/tomorrow b4 i move!

johnv said...

I really enjoyed the Chapter One post --and will be looking to hearing this one as well. Thanks for all the great work.

Julian said...

wow, simply blow away by the two samples from the Gato LP. need this big time. on the DL and dying to hear the rest! thx for the share.

cheeba said...

julian, good to have you stop by! if those tracks strike a chord, you should enjoy the whole album.

cheeba said...

johnv, you're welcome. They're quite a bit different but hopefully you enjoy this one too!

lcbriza said...

Thanks for sharing the Gato records.