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Vibes virtuoso, composer, educator and five-time Grammy winner Gary Burton has played a pivotal role in furthering the careers of newcomers through the years. Among many others, John Scofield, Carla Bley and Pat Metheny come quickly to mind. "I take my cue from Stan Getz, who often hired younger players to stay sharp," Burton has remarked; In his own early 20s, he performed with Getz. Burton's latest quintet showcases sixteen-year-old guitarist Julian Lage, whom he first met during the 1998 Grammy Award telecast.
The opener, "Prelude For Vibes," is one of two tunes written by pianist Vadim Neselovskyi. He and Burton swing in together, playfully leading up to a gorgeous exchange between piano and guitar which concludes with deft punctuation on the vibes. Burton also has a special knack for envisioning jazz possibilities in classical music, as evidenced in his and Makoto Ozone's Virtuosi (Concord, 2002). With Samuel Barber's "Fuga," this quintet proves that sounds both baroque and modern can be delightfully syntonic.
Lage's own "Walkin' In Music" is a light jump tune that offers an opportunity for each young musician to shine while surrounded and embraced within the distinctively elegant sound of Burton's signature four-mallet vibes. A few bars of Lage's intro ushers Burton in. Bass, drums and finally piano join in for some easy swinging. Throughout, Lage's playing is distinct and solid, but never merely flashy. As a group, this quintet recalls the always bracingly fresh sounds of the Modern Jazz Quartet, albeit with a not unpleasant tad more vermouth in the musical martini.
Track Listing: Prelude For Vibes; My Romance; 'Ques Sez; Get Up And Go; B & G; A Dance For Most of You; Walkin' In Music; Summer Band Camp; Fuga; Clarity.
Personnel: Gary Burton: vibraphone; Julian Lage: guitar; Vadim Neselovskyi: piano; Luques Curtis: bass; James Williams: drums.