Argentinean saxophonist Gato Barbieri, known as "the cat," started out playing alto sax with countryman Lalo Schifrin before switching to tenor. In the 1960s, influenced by John Coltrane, he ventured into more avant-garde realms, playing with Don Cherry and others. By the mid-'70s, Barbieri had turned toward a smoother, more pop-oriented sound, to huge success (for a jazz artist). No matter what the style, though, he always retained the distinctive South American influence that is his trademark.
The album on which a fire-breathing revolutionary transformed himself into a smooth Latin love man, under the guidance of producer Herb Alpert and associate producer Michelle (Mrs. Gato) Barbieri. The rhythm tracks are tight and funky in a facile '70s fuzak sort of way, and Jay Chattaway's CTI-inspired orchestrations sound dated and corny. The arrangements conspire to stifle the Third World scream in Barbieri's raw and impassioned tenor sax tone. Yet he still manages to mate the steamy temperament of the tango with upscale funk on covers of Santana's "Europa" and Marvin Gaye's "I Want You." --Rick Mitchell
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