The tenor sax never sounds quite like it does in the hands of Gato Barbieri, the Argentinean who has been making waves in the jazz world for the past quarter century. This session finds him in synth-lush settings, shooting for a crossover audience-and very likely finding it. Barbieri’s tone is gorgeous. His phrasing and conception here never offer a challenge to those who simply want to enjoy their music. There is passion here, but it is soundstage passion, played out before matte-painted sunsets: the intensity that was so much a part of his playing is seldom in evidence. The set begins and ends with an orchestral flourish, a pensive and lovely set of bookends. In between are eleven selections: eight by Barbieri, one by guitarist Chuck Loeb, who also did all the orchestral arranging, and the venerable “Auld Lang Syne,” which gets the proverbial two-part treatment. The supporting cast changes substantially through the proceedings, and includes Will Lee and Mark Egan on bass, David Charles and Sammy Figueroa on percussion, Lionel Cordew on drums, and Mike Ricchiuti on keyboards.
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