Gary Burton: For Hamp, Red, Bags, And Cal

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
After he broadened the possibilities of the vibraphone by exploring the music of Argentinean bandoneon genius Astor Piazzolla, Gary Burton now is looking back over the instrument’s relatively brief tradition in the year that he considers to be its seventy-fifth anniversary. The actual invention of the vibraphone remains a mystery, enhancements such as the vibrato and sustain pedal added incrementally. It seems that the vibes didn’t arrive fully developed at a single moment in time.

Perhaps more versatile than the vibraphone masters he honors, Burton seamlessly adopts the styles of his predecessors on For Hamp, Red, Bags, And Cal. No small part of the success of the CD is Makoto Ozone’s arrangements, which capture the essence of the vibraphonists’ musical spirit and the style of music they performed. One of Burton’s favorite duo musicians, Ozone accompanies Burton on two of the more challenging numbers, “Hole In The Wall” and “Dance Of The Octopus,” as Burton recalls Red Norvo’s innovations in making the xylophone and marimba sing in spite of their inherent lack of sustain. Reportedly, Burton practiced for two weeks to nail Norvo’s proficiency on the difficult instruments.

Burton uses three other groups to honor the sounds of the other vibraphonists. Danilo Perez, John Patitucci, Horacio Hernandez and Luis Quintero illuminate the numbers dedicated to Cal Tjader, revealing Tjader’s brilliance in adapting the vibraphone to Latin music years ahead of the broader popularity of Cuban music. Of course, that interest fits well with Burton’s explorations of the tango, perhaps his niche in the genre. Even “Body And Soul” assumes a light rhumba posture that Tjader injected into even the standards as a member of the George Shearing quintet—a position that Burton himself filled in the early stages of his career.

Mulgrew Miller, Christian McBride and Lewis Nash create a more traditional rhythm section behind Burton on the bop- and swing-based tracks inspired by Lionel Hampton and Milt Jackson. On the shimmering “Midnight Sun,” Burton stretches out in glowing chromatic descent, even as Miller emerges from the background with a confident solo in a wordlessly narrative basis. After Nash’s propulsive introduction to “Flying Home,” it becomes evident that Ozone has set up Miller’s vamp as a minor-keyed offset to Burton’s bright, flowing major-keyed melody. Christian McBride’s solo on “Flying Home” adds humor and even more buoyancy to the tune.

McBride’s contributions are more evident on the tributes to Red Norvo that he shares with Burton and Russell Malone. Recalling Norvo’s reborn originality in his trio with Tal Farlow and Charles Mingus in the early 1950’s, the contemporary trio features McBride on “Back Home Again In Indiana” (a tune perhaps of personal significance to Indiana native Burton and one which he performed with Norvo). Singing and swinging his bass from the very start of the tune, McBride exhibits a combination of precise articulation with a jauntiness that sets the tone for the piece. When Malone comes in with the same degree of unassuming technical proficiency and a toe-tapping nod to the swing guitar tradition, the stage is set for a lively exchange—one for which Burton assumes an accompanying role for over half of the tune. Norvo’s “Godchild” and “Move” are performed along more traditional lines with Burton leading their development as McBride walks the bass and Malone strums until they too break out into individualistic and lively solos.

A student of the vibraphone all of his life and yet an artist who has avoided imitation, Gary Burton finally has recorded an album unlike any of his others, in spite of his extensive discography.


Track Listing: Afro Blue, Bags

Personnel: Gary Burton, vibes, xylophone, marimba; Mulgrew Miller, Danilo Perez, Makoto Ozone, piano; Russell Malone, guitar; Christian McBride, John Patitucci, bass; Lewis Nash, Horacio Hernandez, drums; Luis Quintero, percussion

| Record Label: Concord Music Group | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Twin Talk" CD/LP/Track Review Twin Talk
by Mark F. Turner
Published: September 19, 2016
Read "Handel:  Complete Harpsichord Music" CD/LP/Track Review Handel: Complete Harpsichord Music
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 2, 2016
Read "After Dark" CD/LP/Track Review After Dark
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 20, 2016
Read "Metamorphosis" CD/LP/Track Review Metamorphosis
by James Nadal
Published: July 10, 2016
Read "Arclight" CD/LP/Track Review Arclight
by Troy Collins
Published: March 4, 2016
Read "Binary & Mysteries of the Deep" CD/LP/Track Review Binary & Mysteries of the Deep
by Troy Dostert
Published: October 20, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!