Musician. Barbieri was a Grammy-winning Latin Jazz saxophonist who recorded dozens of albums over a career spanning more than seven decades. Born Leandro Barbieri, he grew up in a family that included several musicians, but did not take up an instrument until he was 12 when he heard Charlie Parker's recording of "Now's the Time" and began studying clarinet. After moving to Buenos Aires in the late 1940s, he picked up the alto saxophone and earned the nickname "El Gato", which means "The Cat", because of the way he scampered between clubs with his saxophone. He gained national prominence playing alto saxophone in an orchestra led by pianist-composer Lalo Schifrin. Later in the 1950s, Barbieri switched to tenor saxophone as he began leading his own groups. In the 1960s, he developed a warmer, grittier sound on the tenor sax, incorporating South American rhythms, harmonies and melodic themes on albums such as 'The Third World' (1969) and 'El Pampero' (1971). When director Bernardo Bertolucci needed music for his 1972 film, 'Last Tango in Paris' starring Marlon Brando, he turned to Barbieri. The soundtrack would go on to make him an international star and earn him a Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition the following year. He recorded 35 more albums until 1982, when he stopped consistently making new records. He toured regularly and went on to record four more albums, including 1997's 'Que Pasa', which reached No. 2 on Billboard's contemporary jazz charts, 'The Shadow of the Cat' (2002) and 'New York Meeting' (2010). Barbieri, who received a Latin Grammy lifetime achievement award in 2015, died from pneumonia after having bypass surgery to remove a blood clot.
Bio by: Louis du Mort