Gary Burton Quartet: Live Last Night

Live Last Night

"The 6:30 start time is working good for you," Gary Burton joked to a dinner crowd at the Rams Head Tavern last night. The room was packed with boomers old enough to recall when the vibraphonist formed his acclaimed quartet in the mid-'60s. But the current edition of the ensemble can't be accused of merely trafficking in nostalgia, even when it evokes the early days of jazz-rock fusion.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

That much was obvious by the time Burton first addressed the audience, following the quartet's freshly configured arrangements of Chick Corea's "Sea Journey," Carla Bley's "Olhos de Gato" and Steve Swallow's "Falling Grace." As you might expect of a band featuring Burton, bass guitarist Swallow and guitarist Pat Metheny, there was no shortage of exquisitely honed interplay, sleek reharmonizations and chamber-jazz atmospherics.

Yet an air of freewheeling improvisation often prevailed, especially as the concert progressed. Burton frequently used his signature four-mallet attack to add lift to soaring chromatic flights. Metheny turned "Walter L," a Burton-penned tribute to late guitar great Hank Garland, into a brashly exuberant, funk-charged romp. And drummer Antonio Sanchez made certain that the ensemble's trademark finesse was balanced by a kinetic brand of rhythmic interplay and his own potent, full-kit thrust.

Punctuating the show were a couple of vibes and guitar duets, including a thrumming, triple-meter take on "Summertime." Nothing, though, rivaled the quartet's colorfully woven and vibrantly propelled performances.

-- MIKE JOYCE

By J. Freedom du Lac |  June 24, 2009; 11:47 AM ET Live Last Night
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I just became interested in Garland, who I keep referring as "Hank Ballard" for some reason. Totally different people, OK?

Hank Garland was an early country music guitarist who joined in when rock and roll and rockabilly came along. He made his money doing sessions for everyone in Nashville for a couple decades, but his real love was jazz.

It would seem that only a greatest-hits album is available (albeit a 2-CD package)...although Bear Family appears to have released a few of the original records at one time.

He is truly a smoking guitar play with incredible feel and a knockout sense of melody. And Burton, I think he was 16 or so when he joined up with Garland, and he plays these smoking bop lines on these early '60s recordings. "Guitar Artistry of Hank Garland" - great stuff.

Posted by: ana1ana2 | June 24, 2009 4:41 PM

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