Leandro “Gato” Barbieri (28 November 1932 – 2 April 2016) was an Argentine jazz tenor saxophonist who rose to fame during the free jazzmovement in the 1960s and is known for his Latin jazz recordings of the 1970s. His nickname, Gato, is Spanish for “cat”.
Born to a family of musicians, Barbieri began playing music after hearing Charlie Parker‘s “Now’s the Time”. He played the clarinet and later the alto saxophone while performing with Argentine pianist Lalo Schifrin in the late 1950s. By the early 1960s, while playing in Rome, he also worked with the trumpeter Don Cherry. By now influenced by John Coltrane‘s late recordings, as well as those from other free jazz saxophonists such as Albert Aylerand Pharoah Sanders, he began to develop the warm and gritty tone with which he is associated. In the late 1960s, he was fusing music from South America into his playing and contributed to multi-artist projects like Charlie Haden‘s Liberation Music Orchestra and Carla Bley‘s Escalator Over The Hill. His score for Bernardo Bertolucci‘s 1972 film Last Tango in Paris earned him a Grammy Award and led to a record deal with Impulse! Records.