b. 25 December 1960, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Barlow began with piano then studied classical flute and clarinet, switching to tenor saxophone in his teens while attending jazz courses at the New South Wales Conservatorium. His father, Bill Barlow, is a top reed player. In 1979 Dale played in the Australian Youth Orchestra at the Monterey Jazz Festival. In 1982 he went to New York, USA, ostensibly to study, but was soon playing and recording with many notable jazz musicians, including Chet Baker, Sonny Rollins, Cedar Walton, Sonny Stitt, Kenny Barron and Gil Evans, as well as pop acts, Bryan Ferry, Style Council and Mental As Anything. In addition to living in New York, Barlow toured with various groups in Europe, Indonesia and Cuba. In 1988 he was named Bicentennial Jazz Musician Of The Year. That same year he led a 10-piece band of top Australian musicians on a tour to the USA. In 1990, he recorded and toured with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. Barlow formed and toured with his own groups, and recorded Wizards Of Oz with Paul Grabowsky. From 1992-94 he was voted Jazz Instrumentalist Of The Year.
Barlow, with his shaved head and hard bop tenor, became not only a musicians’ favourite, but also a viable commercial property, with popular appearances on television variety and talk shows. In 1993 he toured Australia with Eddie Henderson and Mulgrew Miller and broke attendance records at Sydney’s Basement jazz club with vocalist Margaret Urlich. Barlow was also very much in demand as a sideman, recording with James Morrison, Tommy Emmanuel, Vince Jones and Eva Breckon. He also performed in the classical idiom, playing concerts with the Elektra String Quartet and the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra. In the mid-90s Barlow toured Europe with his quintet, playing tenor, flute and the indigenous didgeridoo. He also performed original material with the percussion ensemble Synergy. As a student of music, Barlow has absorbed many influences but remains an individual stylist, playing with force and elegance, and his commercial success has not negated his creative artistry.