When Gato Barbieri re-emerged on Columbia in 1997 after a long hiatus from recording, long-time followers wondered whether he would record straight-ahead jazz or embrace the type of lush pop-jazz he had recorded for A&M in the late 1970's. The distinctive tenor saxman opted to go the commercial route, but he kept his dignity intact. 1997's Que Pasa
picked up where Barbieri's A&M output left off, and he has a very similar CD in Che Corazon
. With guitarist Chuck Loeb producing, he delivers another album of sleek, romantic mood music. To be sure, pop-jazz instrumentals like "Blue Eyes," "Sweet Glenda" and "The Woman on the Lake" aren¹t in a class with Barbieri's challenging, often brilliant post-bop and avant-garde jazz of the 1960s and early 1970s. But they're tastefully done, and they demonstrate that commercial mood music doesn't have to be elevator music. You can think of Che Corazon
as "smooth jazz with a brain."