Gary Burton / Pat Metheny / Steve Swallow / Antonio Sanchez: Quartet Live (2009)
, Samuel T Brown and Jerry Hahn to Mick Goodrick and, finally, Metheny.
More than a look back at the three ECM albums that Metheny recorded with Burton Ring (1974), Dreams So Real (1976) and Passengers (1977)Quartet Live recaptures the decade from 1967-77 where Burton's groups always included a guitarist, from Larry Coryell
's delicate ballad, "Coral" and the dark-hued grace of Metheny's "B and G (Midwestern Night's Dream)" and Carla Bley's "Olhos de Gato," to the fiery energy of the guitarist's "Missouri Uncompromised," Bley's equally burning "Syndrome" and Swallow's lithely swinging classic, "Falling Grace." There's even a rare Burton tune included, the quirky blues "Walter L," and a nod to Duke Ellington with the Latinesque "Fleurette Africaine (Little African Flower)" and longtime duet partner Chick Corea, with the lengthy opening workout of "Sea Journey."
While Metheny has grown tremendously since those early days, becoming a modern icon in his own right, Quartet Live proves the timeless nature of Burton's always astute musical choices, ranging from Keith Jarrett
and Danny Gottlieb did, but still injecting his own distinctive strength into the mix. Swallow's electric bass tone is richer and fuller than it was back in the day, combining with Sanchez to provide a weightier bottom end without diminishing the wonderfully ethereal, mellifluous and lyrical combination of guitar and vibes.
The nearly 80-minute set also demonstrates how close to perfection Burton's groups from that era were. Sanchez may not have been around at the time (he was not yet three when Ring was recorded), but he fits like a glove, weighing heavily on the cymbals just as Bob Moses
If there's one misstep with Quartet Live it's a small one. The inclusion of Metheny's enduring "Question and Answer"as ever a feature for the guitarist's horn-like guitar synth at its climaxseems slightly out of place with the more rarified ambience of the rest of the disc. Still, there's nothing wrong with a little modernistic heat to finish off the set, and while it's perhaps not the perfect choice, it does absolutely nothing to mar the exhilaration of hearing Burton, Metheny and Swallow reunite for a set of music that hasn't aged a day in 30+ years.
Track Listing: Sea Journey; Olhos de Gato; Falling Grace; Coral; Walter L.; B and G (Midwestern Night's Dream); Missouri Uncompromised; Fleurette Africaine (Little African Flower); Hullo, Bolinas; Syndrome; Question and Answer.
Personnel: Gary Burton: vibes; Pat Metheny: guitar; Steve Swallow: electric bass; Antonio Sanchez: drums.
Record Label: Concord Music Group
Style: Modern Jazz