Obituary

Jazz rebel incorporated pop into music

Argentina-born jazz tenor saxophonist Leandro Barbieri (above) recorded 50 albums during his long career.
Argentina-born jazz tenor saxophonist Leandro Barbieri (above) recorded 50 albums during his long career.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE

The award-winning jazz saxophonist Leandro Barbieri was behind the sensual score for the 1972 film, Last Tango In Paris

NEW YORK • Argentina-born jazz saxophonist Leandro "Gato" Barbieri, who won a Grammy for music in the 1972 film Last Tango In Paris, died last Saturday, New York's Blue Note Jazz Club said. He was 83.

"Today we've lost an icon, pioneer and dear friend," the legendary club said in a statement posted on Twitter. "Gato's significant contributions to music and the arts were an inspiration to us all."

His wife Laura was quoted as saying he died of pneumonia.

"Music was a mystery to Gato and each time he played was a new experience for him, and he wanted it to be that way for his audience. He was honoured for all the years he had a chance to bring his music all around the world," she said.

Barbieri, born on Nov 28, 1932, recorded 50 albums during his long career. His last performance was on Nov 23 last year, Blue Note said.

He was first inspired to learn the saxophone by jazz great Charlie Parker and began to play it as a teenager at clubs in Buenos Aires.

Music was a mystery to Gato and each time he played was a new experience for him, and he wanted it to be that way for his audience.

LAURA BARBIERI on her husband Leandro "Gato" Barbieri. Gato, or cat in Spanish, was his nickname

He began in the American jazz world as part of fellow Argentine Lalo Schifrin's orchestra before immersing himself in the free jazz movement pioneered by Ornette Coleman, said The Hollywood Reporter.

His nickname "Gato" - cat in Spanish - came early on and his long career "covered virtually the entire jazz landscape", according to his Blue Note biography.

Barbieri became known to a wider audience when director Bernardo Bertolucci chose his trademark tenor saxophone sound as the music for the steamy Last Tango In Paris, a Hollywood movie starring Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider.

"Always in the tango is tragedy - she leaves him, she kills him. It's like an opera, but it's called tango," Barbieri said in 1997 of his score. "The lyrics and melodies are very beautiful. It's very sensual."

The soundtrack scored him a Grammy win for Best Instrumental Composition.

His final album, Shadow, released in September 2002, won a Billboard Latin Jazz Album of the Year award.

Last year, he received a Latin Grammy lifetime achievement award.

The Latin Recording Academy said when it announced the award: "Barbieri created a rebellious but highly accessible musical style, combining contemporary jazz with Latin American genres and incorporating elements of instrumental pop."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2016, with the headline 'Jazz rebel incorporated pop into music'. Print Edition | Subscribe