Gary Bartz, born on September 26, 1940, in Baltimore, Maryland, is an accomplished American jazz saxophonist and composer. With a career that has spanned more than six decades, Bartz has contributed significantly to various jazz styles, including bebop, hard bop, and fusion. He has collaborated with numerous celebrated jazz musicians and has been recognized for his exceptional talent and influence on contemporary jazz.
Bartz’s musical journey began at a young age, with his father introducing him to the alto saxophone. By the age of 16, he had already started performing with various local bands in Baltimore. He continued to develop his skills as a saxophonist and, in 1958, entered the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City to study music. It was during his time in New York that Bartz’s career truly began to take shape.
In the early 1960s, Bartz worked with some of the leading jazz musicians of the time, including Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, and Charles Mingus. In 1965, he joined the legendary Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, a group known for nurturing up-and-coming jazz talent. His tenure with Blakey provided him the opportunity to hone his skills as both a saxophonist and a composer.
Bartz’s career took off in the late 1960s and early 1970s when he formed his own group, the Gary Bartz NTU Troop. The ensemble explored various musical styles, including African rhythms, soul, and funk, as well as the avant-garde. The NTU Troop released several acclaimed albums, such as “Harlem Bush Music – Taifa” and “Home!,” which showcased Bartz’s unique approach to composition and improvisation.
During this period, Bartz also collaborated with the iconic trumpeter Miles Davis, contributing to the groundbreaking fusion albums “Live-Evil” and “On the Corner.” These collaborations further enhanced Bartz’s reputation as a versatile and innovative musician.
Throughout the years, Gary Bartz has continued to be an influential and active presence in the jazz world. He has released numerous albums as a leader and collaborated with a wide range of artists, including McCoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders, and Donald Byrd. In addition to his career as a performer, Bartz has been committed to education, teaching at prestigious institutions such as the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he serves as a professor of jazz saxophone.
Gary Bartz’s impact on jazz music cannot be overstated. His diverse and innovative body of work has left a lasting impression on the genre, and his dedication to educating the next generation of musicians ensures that his influence will continue to be felt for years to come.
Last updated 3/18/2023.