Gary Burton: On ECM & Playing With Pat Metheny

Mark Sullivan By

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AAJ: So it's like a visual click track.

GB: Exactly. And of course there are changes—tempo changes and everything, but it's all programmed to flash the right information. So if you get lost and not sure where you are, you look at the lights and you get back on it. Smart stuff.

He is everybody's guitar hero. He's a masterful player and he came up and he invented his own sound and his own recognizable style. That's one of the hardest things to do. And you can't just set your mind to "I'm going to be different from other people." It either is something you hear and can make work or not, and the majority of players, even if they're quite good, sound more or less in the middle traditional zone of whatever the instrument is, whether it's saxophone or guitar or whatever. But if you can come up with a truly identifiable original sound, it will set you apart from the crowd. Pat came up with that after the first couple of years of his career getting underway.

AAJ: That's what was so scary about him.

GB: Well he is scary. I think of all the successful musicians I've known in jazz, which were a lot of them—he's among the most deserving. He works hard at it and is a real perfectionist. He's always thinking ahead, trying more and more unusual creative, inventive things. My admiration for him has just continued to grow over the years. I feel the same way about Chick, too.

AAJ: I think it's apparent when you're both on stage together.

GB: Yeah, for us it's like jumping in with your friend to the same old swimming hole. It's such a natural thing, and we both played with Antonio Sanchez and Scott a lot. They've been my rhythm section for the last three or four years now, and of course Antonio's been with Pat for about 10 or 12 years. So we're all really comfortable playing together. And that was just so much fun.
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