Leandro "Gato" Barbieri has traversed a wide range of musical styles over his career. His earliest recordings counted Don Cherry, Abdullah Ibrahim and Roswell Rudd as collaborators. He was quick to settle into the avant-garde before exploring South American music. He later went on to play pop fanned tunes and disco music. Fortunately these commercialized transgressions were not long-lived. His strengths as an improviser and musical thinker continue to establish his credentials.
Barbieri's creative instincts come to life on In Search of the Mystery. This early recording sees him free of fetters as he roves across wide open plains, finding inspiration that he turns into a taut and often electrifying experience.
The opening track stamps his course, with fever pitch intensity enveloped in a series of high pitched screams. But there is a method and logic to his evolution as he balances it with balmy phrases that come in to soften the impact just enough before being rent asunder by a gale.
Though Barbieri is upfront and centre, he has a fine cohort in cellist Calo Scott, who is no slouch when it comes to matching wits or complementing Barbieri. Calo cuts broad strokes that dip and swerve with the saxophone lines. He is equally adept at putting his bow aside to play a pizzicato melody and bring in a dimension that contrasts Barbieri's approach.
"Obsession No. 2" explodes after a quiet start. Barbieri is at his most propulsive, searing the tempo and creating a breathtaking scenario of tension and fulfillment. The rest of the band is crucial in completing the impact. Calo swirls eddying pools as he changes pitch, while drummer Bobby Kapp and bassist Nick Jones not only add punch to the rhythm, but also propel the front men on.
In Search of the Mystery is a fine hark back to early Barbieri and merits close attention.
Personnel: Gato Barbieri: tenor saxophone; Calo Scott: cello; Sirone (Morris Jones): bass; Bobby Kapp: drums.