Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Gary Burton Quartet in Concert

Guitarist Larry Coryell died two nights ago at the age of 73. In tribute, I played the 1968 album Gary Burton Quartet In Concert yesterday. Burton formed his quartet with Coryell, bassist Steve Swallow, and Roy Haynes on drums (soon replaced by Bob Moses) in 1967. The quartet with Coryell made three albums - or four, if you count A Genuine Tong Funeral, which augmented the quartet with Carla Bley's keyboards and five wind players to interpret Bley's score.

Of all the quartet's albums, this was the hardest to find back in the day, and it's still the most obscure. There have been CD reissues in Japan and Europe, but not in the United States. It's a great performance, recorded in Carnegie Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall's small theater. The group (with Moses on drums) is focused and inspired; they bring new life to tunes that mostly had been recorded by Burton on previous albums.

The quartet with guitar has remained Burton's preferred instrumentation, and many excellent guitarist have passed through the group since Coryell's tenure: Jerry Hahn, Sam Brown, Mick Goodrick, Pat Metheny, and most recently Julian Lage. I'll always have a special place in my heart for the Gary Burton Quartet - one of the first jazz concerts I attended, in 1976 or 1977, was by the Burton Quartet - the same group as on the In Concert album, with the substitution of Pat Metheny for Coryell.

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