? Unless you were at the Berklee Performance Center on Thursday, April 8, the answer is never.
Billed as "Gary Burton's Arrival: Celebrating 50 Years," the sold-out performance in Boston featured four groups that Gary has lead throughout his career, as well as a special surprise encore with Chick Corea. Highlights from the evening included Antonio Sanchez's burning drum solo on the Steve Swallow composition "Como en Vietnam;" Donny McCaslin's crowd-roaring sax solo on the Keith Jarrett
/Makoto Ozone medley "Coral/Test of Time;" Julian Lage's incredibly dynamic and well-phrased solo on his own composition entitled "Early;" and both Gary and Chick's playing on their encore, featuring the Chick Corea composition "La Fiesta." The evening went by way too quickly, and it is a testament to Gary's flawless programming and bandleading skills that such an event was pulled off without so much as a minor glitch in the projector screen.
Gary Burton has won six Grammy Awards and has produced over sixty records as a leader. In 1985 he became Dean of Curriculum at Berklee College of Music and served as Executive Vice President from 1996-2004. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of music in 1989. But it is Gary Burton the bandleader who has ultimately influenced thousands of musicians and fans alike. In this respect he stands shoulder to shoulder with the greatest bandleaders this genre has known, including Art Blakey
, Keith Jarrett, and Chick Corea have all appeared in some form or another with Gary. Recently a new generation of players, including Julian Lage, Vadim Neselovskyi, Luques Curtis, and James Williams, have toured and recorded as part of Gary Burton's Next Generation Quintet.
Toward the end of the evening, Gary approached the microphone and announced, "We began rehearsing for this last night, and it was like watching my life flash before my eyes." This truly was a once in a lifetime event honoring a man whose creative output permeates every aspect of his life and those around him. One can only imagine what the next fifty years will produce.