393

Gary Burton: Generations

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Gary Burton: Generations With virtually flawless execution and a remarkable sense of adventure, Gary Burton has changed the face of the vibraphone. Introduced in the '60s to a larger audience thanks to guitarist Hank Garland, he has returned the favour by bringing attention to a number of fine young guitarists, including Larry Coryell, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Pat Metheny. On his latest release, Generations , he introduces Julian Lage, who was a precocious seventeen at the time of the recording. Lage is a fine composer and remarkably mature guitarist, and he helps make Generations the best Burton record in years.

Burton has suffered, in recent years, from a self-imposed desire to make concept recordings, paying tribute to Lionel Hampton, Astor Piazzolla and Milt Jackson, to name three. While his recordings are always well executed they often seem a little too contrived, so it is refreshing to see him put together a group with no preconceptions other than that of the obvious generational difference among the musicians, and just play.

With a programme that includes material from Carla Bley, Metheny, Steve Swallow and current pianist Makoto Ozone, with whom he has been associated for twenty years now, this is Burton's strongest set list since his days with ECM. And Lage contributes three compositions which are, as is typical of Burton's choices in material, accessible yet deceptively challenging. Lage's "First Impression" has a bit of that Metheny mid-Western feel, but when Lage starts to solo he makes it all his own. For a player who, according to the liner notes, "is looking forward to getting his driver's license," Lage already has a distinctive voice that comes partly from the Jim Hall school, and partly from the Metheny school in his use of wide intervals; but his phrasing, which is more relaxed, and his subtle vibrato give him a distinctive sound.

Anchoring the rhythm section are the ubiquitous team of bassist James Genus and Clarence Penn, who can navigate everything from the Cuban-informed treatment of Swallow's "Ladies in Mercedes" to the tango-inflected "Early" and the tender Mitchel Forman ballad "Gorgeous." The group delivers a version of Bley's "Syndrome" which Burton has covered twice before; but by reworking the harmony during the head and swinging harder than ever before the group makes this the definitive version. And Lage's solo is nothing short of stunning, as is Burton's.

Burton's playing is as impeccable as ever, ranging from fiery to abstract and impressionistic, as on Ozone's "Heroes Sin Nombre." But always the consummate bandleader, he leaves plenty of room for the rest of the group. And it is the feeling that this is not a project, but a group, that makes Generations such a satisfying effort from an artist who has created a body of work redefining the expectations of his instrument.

Track Listing: First Impression; Early; Gorgeous; Wheatland; Take Another Look; Syndrome; Test of Time; The Title Will Follow; Ladies in Mercedes; H

Personnel: Gary Burton: vibraphone; Julian Lage: guitar; Makoto Ozone: piano; James Genus: bass; Clarence Penn: drums.

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Concord Music Group | Style: Contemporary/Smooth


Shop

More Articles

Read Speechless CD/LP/Track Review Speechless
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Holiday On Fire CD/LP/Track Review Holiday On Fire
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Calvins Toboggan CD/LP/Track Review Calvins Toboggan
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Silent Light CD/LP/Track Review Silent Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read PausaLive CD/LP/Track Review PausaLive
by Patrick Keyes
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Adam's Apple CD/LP/Track Review Adam's Apple
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 26, 2017
Read "All These Hands" CD/LP/Track Review All These Hands
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 20, 2016
Read "2nd Thoughts" CD/LP/Track Review 2nd Thoughts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 8, 2017
Read "Hauptbahnhof" CD/LP/Track Review Hauptbahnhof
by Anthony Shaw
Published: April 4, 2017
Read "Super Petite" CD/LP/Track Review Super Petite
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 12, 2016
Read "Live" CD/LP/Track Review Live
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 31, 2016
Read "Serenity Knolls" CD/LP/Track Review Serenity Knolls
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 14, 2017

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!