Recorded at The Carriage House (Stamford, CT), Brooke Sound (Irvington, NY), The Warehouse (NYC).
An improvement on tenor saxophonist Gato Barbieri's previous Columbia debut, this outing mostly features his romantic and passionate horn in the spotlight. One song is primarily a vocal feature for Gato. His backup band (which usually includes bassist Mark Egan and guitarist Chuck Loeb) is generally quite spirited, but it is the tenor who stars throughout. Even when sticking to the melody (Gato and Loeb wrote most of the material), there is so much feeling in Barbieri's playing that he largely possesses each song, even an oddly memorable rendition of "Auld Lang Syne." And, although the performances are a bit commercial in spots, Barbieri's sincere emotionalism consistently uplifts this recording.
All Music Guide
Gato Barbieri's last release, the smooth-jazz success Qu? Pasa?, reasserted the Argentinian's chart presence after a 10-year absence from recording. However, unlike Philippe Saisse's technology-heavy production for that disc, Che Coraz?n emphasizes the human quality of barbieri's sound, seemingly affirming the tenor saxophonist's renewed commitment to life.
While his lustrous tone possesses the romantic passion of an operatic tenor, Gato's powerful presence still has the sonic thrill that listeners associate with the tenor saxophone. His sense of the "long line" in improvising - a process that his old associate Steve Lacy once called "taking a line for a walk" - adorns some ravishing melodies here. "Encounter" has warm instrumental colors, courtesy of Mike Ricchiuti's keyboards, and features the ace percussion team of Sammy Figueroa and David Charles. "Seven Servants," a darkly mysterious Barbieri composition, is given an expansive orchestral arrangement by producer Chuck Loeb, who also contributes fluid guitar work throughout.
Loeb is a worthy collaborator on Coraz?n. His arranging devices, such as the low-register keyboard dance half-way through "The Woman on the Lake" and the seductively mesmeric opening of "I Want You" (done in tribute to Gato's late friend, Marvin Gaye), show him to be a sympathetic elucidator of Barbieri's music. His string writing on Gato's joyful take on "Auld Lang Syne" is an eloquent expression of happiness. The latter permeates all of Gato's music, throughout a rich career that spans more than three decades. Che Coraz?n is a wonderful gift from a master.
- From Jazziz
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" aren^(1)t 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."