THE SHADOW that Gary Bartz casts over the last six decades of progressive Black music, and his continued dedication to the cause, makes him a logical contributor to the Jazz Is Dead label.
Working with Gary Bartz epitomises the ethos behind Jazz Is Dead. He’s a luminary that has contributed so much to music culture.
An alto saxophonist steeped in the history and tradition of his instrument who is also restlessly experimental and not prone to purism of any kind, he enjoys both the respect and admiration of his peers and the hero worship of several generations after him – including Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, which inevitably led to Gary Bartz JID 006.
A look at his body of work reveals dalliances with bebop, hard bop, free jazz, spiritual jazz, soul jazz, jazz-funk, fusion and acid jazz, all while resolutely remaining unmistakably Gary Bartz.
There’s early work with Eric Dolphy and McCoy Tyner in Charles Mingus’ Jazz Workshop, work with Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln, a stint in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and also one with Miles.
There’s his groundbreaking and highly influential Ntu Troop albums of the early ‘70s and his jazz-funk work including two classic albums with the Mizell Brothers, one of which supplied A Tribe Called Quest with a sample that was smooth like butter.
The socio-political content of much of Bartz’s work, particularly during the early ‘70s, is another factor that has captured the attention of and influenced many.
“Working with Gary Bartz epitomizes the ethos behind Jazz Is Dead,” says Younge. “He’s a luminary that has contributed so much to music culture, for decades. His musical ability is expanding with age and we’re honored to be a part of his world.”
Bartz brought his historically busy touring and recording schedule into the new millennium, re-establishing his deep jazz credentials even as another generation of DJs and hip-hop producers discovered the untold riches contained in his back catalog.
He remains spry, fit and energetic at age 80 and his new collaboration with Jazz Is Dead’s Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad is the glorious proof.