Jazz and folk music in "Third World" by Gato Barbieri

in memory of the great saxophonist, his free jazz period and the Argentine tradition

Thousands of popular and art-music strands interweave and each of these genres supports the other, mixing and mingling continually.
Gato Barbieri has left a vast eclectic production embracing a range of rather diverse creative periods. Here, we are interested, above all, with his rapport with the popular music of South America, especially that featured in two of his albums: "Third World" and "LatinoAmerica". For Barbieri "Third World", in particular, represents a watershed following the first stage of his career during which he was stylistically quite close to Coltrane.
During those years, Barbieri felt ill at ease with approaching jazz music, almost as if he were encroaching on a music not his own, music belonging to a tradition extraneous to his, that of Afro-Americans. The pathway he followed helped him create a style which allowed him to mingle his Argentinean identity with jazz, after having collaborated with Charlie Haden and Dollar Brand. The latter showed how jazz might act as an instrument capable of relating a folk tradition come like that of South Africa with experimental free jazz which was taking shape at the time.

Third World offers an original sound and style of composition where the melody, broken up, segmented and reversed remains the reference-element in a strong, enveloping, extreme, transfigured kind of music. The album opens with the chant of an Argentinean shepherd, followed by a formidable revisitation of a Tango by Piazzolla to continue with Brazilian tunes (including some Bachianas Brazileiras by Villa Lobos) and the South African Haleo And The Wild Roses.
Third World is a work where Barbieri establishes an artistic identity of his own, independent of American free-jazz models and that of the great John Coltrane, with a political afflatus typical of those years (the album was issued in 1969) free from the jazz orthodoxy of the USA.

Barbieri will never return again to the expressive extremes of Third World; as time went by, he availed himself more and more of South American jazz, presenting an increasingly less characterisable repertoire, while remaining, however a soloist capable of electrifying audiences with even a few notes and that style which remained unique. In Italy, he achieved enduring fame thanks to collaborations with Gino Paoli and Pino Daniele, as well as to the sound track of Last Tango in Paris. Barbieri died on the 2nd of April 2016, at the age of 83.

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