@ the Royal Festival Hall
16 November 2019
Click an image to enlarge.
Gary Bartz has been known to many as a trail blazer in the music
business from the moment he started playing with Art Blakey at his
father’s jazz club in his hometown of Baltimore, MD to his
own music throughout the 57 years as a professional musician. As
if his Grammy Award with McCoy Tyner in 2005 “Illuminations”
wasn’t enough to carve out a place for Bartz in the jazz genre,
he has broken the mold with more than 40 solo albums and over 200
as a guest artist.
Gary Bartz first came to New York In 1958 to attend the Julliard
Conservatory of Music. Just 17 years old, Bartz couldn’t wait
to come to the city to play and learn. “It was a very
good time for the music in New York, at the end of what had been
the be-bop era,” says Bartz.
With the splash of his New York debut solidly behind him, Bartz
soon joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. In 1965, he would
make his recording debut on Blakey's “Soulfinger” album.
In 1968, Bartz began an association with McCoy Tyner, which included
participating in Tyner's classic “Expansions and Extensions”
albums. Work with McCoy proved especially significant for Bartz
because of the bandleader's strong connection to John Coltrane,
who Gary succinctly cites as a profound influence.
Bartz received a call from Miles Davis in 1970; work with the legendary
horn player marked Bartz first experience playing electric music.
It also reaffirmed his yen for an even stronger connection to Coltrane.
In addition to working with Miles Davis in the early ‘70s
- including playing the historic Isle of Wight Festival in August,
1970 - Bartz was busy fronting his own NTU Troop ensemble. The group
got its name from the Bantu language: NTU means unity in all things,
time and space, living and dead, seen and unseen. Outside the Troop,
Bartz had been recording as a group leader since 1968, and continued
to do so throughout the ‘70s, during which time he released
such acclaimed albums as, “Another Earth,” “Home,”
“Music Is My Sanctuary” and “Love Affair,”
by the late ‘70s, he was doing studio work in Los Angeles
with Norman Connors and Phyllis Hyman. In 1988, after a nine-year
break between solo releases, Bartz began recording what music columnist
Gene Kalbacher described as “Vital ear-opening sides,”
on such albums as “Monsoon,” “West 42nd Street,”
“There Goes The Neighborhood,” and “Shadows.”
Bartz followed those impressive works in 1995 with the release
of his debut Atlantic album “The Red and Orange Poems”
a self-described musical mystery novel and just one of Bartz brilliantly
conceived concept albums. Back when Bartz masterminded the much-touted
“I’ve Known Rivers” album, based on the poetry
of Langston Hughes, his concepts would be twenty years ahead of
those held by some of today's jazz/hip hop and acid jazz combos.
So it continues with “The Blues Chronicles: Tales of Life”
A testimonial to a steadfast belief in the power of music to soothe,
challenge, spark a crowd to full freak, or move one person to think.
It adds up to a shoe box full of musical snapshots from a life lived
and played with passion and stirred - with both joy and sadness
- by the blues.
Bartz release “Live at the Jazz Standard Volume 1 Soulstice”
is the first of a series of recordings documenting his legendary,
non-stop style, live performances. This initial release on his own
OYO label bares testimony to Bartz continuing growth as a composer,
group leader, and master of both the alto and soprano saxophones.
A quartet session recorded in 1998, was followed by “Live
at the Jazz Standard, Volume 2” released in 2000, which features
Bartz exciting Sextet. His follow up release “Soprano Stories”
Bartz exclusively performed on the soprano saxophone in a studio