Earlier this year vibes master and jazz educator Gary Burton turned 70. But the celebrations are just getting underway now with the August release of the new Guided Tour album by the New Gary Burton Quartet and the publication of his autobiography, Learning to Listen: The Jazz Journey of Gary Burton, at the beginning of September.
Burton is one of the great innovators of jazz vibes, whose groundbreaking four-mallet technique expanded the palette of the instrument. He was also one of the pioneers of jazz fusion and a major figure in jazz education.
His own jazz education started at six when he began to teach himself vibes and marimba. He studied at the Berklee College of Music (where he would go from teacher to Executive Vice President in a three-decade career that ended in 2003)and did sessions in Nashville (his recording debut came with Hank Garland when he was 17) and worked with George Shearing and Stan Getz.
Burton with Stan Getz featured in his own composition, "A Singing Song" -
Burton formed his own pioneering proto-fusion quartet in 1967 with Larry Coryell, Roy Haynes and Steve Swallow. It was the first of a number of impressive ensembles he would lead and one of many groups that would feature rising stars of jazz guitar - among them, Jerry Hahn, Pat Metheny, John Scofield, Kurt Rosenwinkel, and, in his New Quartet lineup, Julian Lage.
A live performance with the New Gary Burton Quartet -
Burton has worked with a wide variety of other musicians as well, including Carla Bley, Gato Barbieri, Keith Jarrett, Makoto Ozone, Ralph Towner, Peter Erskine, Stephane Grappelli, and Ástor Piazzolla. One artist he regularly returns to work with is acclaimed jazz pianist Chick Corea. They have appeared together in a series of live and recorded projects that stretch over the last four decades, the most recent being the Grammy-winning 2012 Hot House album and tour.
Corea and Burton with a live version of "Eleanor Rigby" from Hot House -
In all, Burton has been nominated for 15 Grammys and won seven. Since his debut, he has released over 50 albums as a leader or co-leader on RCA Victor, Atlantic, ECM, GRP, Concord and Mack Avenue Records and explored a wide range of musical styles and contexts.
Music from throughout Gary Burton's career from his debut release to latest album, along with guest appearances with a host of different artists throughout September on the Night Train.