With Guided Tour, The New Gary Burton Quartet quietly takes their place as the finest quartet working today.
Brent Black / @CriticalJazz
If 40 was the new 30 and life truly begins at 60 then Gary Burton is only now beginning to peak. The New Gary Burton Quartet features the returning all star cast including guitar phenom Julian Lage, one of the most under rated bassists on the globe in Scott Colley and a drummer that takes being in the pocket to the next dimension in Antonio Sanchez. This amazing quartet is far more than an all star collective tossed together at the whim of a record label or a leader looking for three after thoughts. As jazz's most innovative and accomplished vibraphonist proves, his eye and ear for talent runs parallel to the incredibly engaging music that this installment of the Burton Quartets continues to make. In short, Gary Burton makes jazz sexy again.
The Burton compositions featured on Guided Tour are bold, beautiful, intimate and oddly mysterious which are perhaps the same exciting qualities that would make up the perfect life partner. To attempt a more traditional analytical review would be doing a disservice to the artistic brilliance that is Gary Burton. A former editor would often caution me on using the term brilliance as with taste, this term can be highly subjective. My counter was consistently that a review is a shared perspective and the blatantly obvious stands up well to critical examination.
In addition to his prolific recording career, Burton is the former Executive Vice President at the world famous Berklee College of Music which capped off a three decade long commitment to jazz education in this country and around the world While this is a review and not a life time achievement award it is the culmination of these incredibly significant events that have Burton at his creative zenith and at a point in time when some artists would be looking back at a glorious career, Gary Burton has one eye forever on the future.
Guided Tour is a collective project in every sense of the word. Scott Colley contributes the haunting ballad "Legacy" while Antonio Sanchez adds a splash of Latin flavor for a deceptively subtle pop of vitality that adds a unique texture to the overall vibe of this recording. The Sanchez opener "Caminos" is a master class for all percussionists. Julian Lage demonstrates exponential
growth with his three contributions including "Sunday's Uncle" which demonstrates his voice as the perfect counterpoint to Burton and his lyrical sense of purpose. The two covers here are as eclectic as they are technically engaging. The Michel Legrand tune "Once Upon A Summertime" and the Fred Hersch "Jackalope" are perfectly placed in this wonderfully thought out set. Burton's "Remembering Tano" is a tribute to the tango master Astor Piazolla and is simply Gary Burton at his very best. An epic recording that reaffirms age is but a number and swing lasts forever.
Tracks: Caminos; The Lookout; Jane Fonda Called Again; Jackalope; Once Upon A Summertime; Sunday's Uncle; Remembering Tano; Helena; Legacy; Monk Fish.