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Turn of the Century

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Album Review

Gary Burton's early pre-ECM career can easily be sliced into fourths — his flirtation with country music via his time spent in Nashville, working as a sideman with Stan Getz, forming a band with Larry Coryell, and these recordings for the Atlantic label that saw him as more an multi-instrumentalist playing contemporary funky music. It seems Burton was bent on fusing all of his influences, being master to none, while exploring different commercial outlets open to him as flower power waned. This double-CD of his recordings for Atlantic had Burton collaborating with that wide array of musicians, most notably Keith Jarrett, violinists Stéphane Grappelli and Seatrain's Richard Green, post-Coryell guitarists Sam Brown, Jerry Hahn, and Eric Gale, members of the session band Stuff, and especially electric bass guitarist Steve Swallow. The textures of this music vary wildly, though in a sense centered by Burton's emerging identity on the vibraphone and refusal to musically stand still. The music works to a certain degree, but there's a feeling of doing too much, as Burton also, at times, overdubs piano, electric keyboards, and organ. The three tracks with Grappelli are outstanding, including the classic ballad "Here's That Rainy Day," the straight bopper "Daphne," or the easy swinger "Coquette," all well within mainstream jazz. Holdovers from his funky phase include the always relevant "Vibrafinger" with distinct guitars and danceable go-go beat, the poignant, now standard "Las Vegas Tango" which was adopted by Carla Bley and Gil Evans, and "Grow Your Own" which is more complex and intertwined as it develops. Jarrett and Burton keep the mingling a constant reality, lightly rocking during "Moonchild/In Your Quiet Place," foreshadowing their pending ECM sonics, while the pianist's long and winding intro to "Fortune Smiles" merges from a stilted walk into a loping, lighter rock beat. Green's overdubbed violin in a slow 4/4 love song identifies the Burton icon "Throb," and Burton plays solo on a quick read of "Chega de Saudade." The set is marred by two soppy pop covers — the lame "Handbags & Gladrags," where Burton overdubs keyboards to an unappealing level, and the pseudo-soul treatment of Aretha Franklin's "I Never Loved a Man" which revealed more about Burton's sexual orientation than his good musical taste. For sure this is an uneven representation of what Gary Burton would become as a true pioneer of contemporary jazz, relegating it to curio status, but there are many moments of unique musical statesmanship on this recording indicative of the changing times in jazz from the early to mid-'70s. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi


Born: 23 January 1943 in Anderson, IN

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

One of the two great vibraphonists to emerge in the 1960s (along with Bobby Hutcherson), Gary Burton's remarkable four-mallet technique (best displayed on an unaccompanied version of "No More Blues" from 1971) can make him sound like two or three players at once. He recorded in a wide variety of settings and always sounds distinctive. Self-taught on vibes, Burton made his recording debut with country guitarist Hank Garland when he was 17, started recording regularly for RCA in 1961, and toured with...
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Turn of the Century, Gary Burton
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  • €11.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: 19 June 1971

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