It's sad how the mainstream Jazz press seems to overlook many older Jazz master musicians in favor of the newest immature young lion. Gary Bartz is one of those masters. I'd rather listen to him than almost any hot younger saxophonist on the scene. He's grounded in Bird but he's not stuck there. You can hear late Trane clearly in his playing, something that I always love to hear in an alto player.
I first became a Bartz fan after hearing an album he did with Jackie McLean in the 70s called 'Ode to Super'. It was a huge influence on my playing. Bartz has a way of playing straight forward Bebop lines then twisting them until you don't know which way is up. To me listening to that record was the first time I had a clear idea of the direction that I wanted to head.
Gary's sound cuts like Jackie but with better intonation. His time feel is so swinging and solid even when he takes things into outer space. Bartz has worked with many Jazz masters including Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner, Art Blakey, Woody Shaw, Charles Mingus, Kenny Barron and Buster Williams. I wish young players today would take the time to check out the living masters instead of always being so fascinated with new crop of younger players.
If you want to hear what Bop sounds like in the twenty-first century, check out Gary Bartz.
Bartz' Sound clips