667

Gary Burton / Pat Metheny / Steve Swallow / Antonio Sanchez: Quartet Live

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
It's rare that a group can reunite to create what it had decades ago while remaining completely fresh and relevant. When guitarist Pat Metheny regrouped the Gary Burton Quartet—his training ground, beginning in his late-teens, from 1974- 1977—as one of his By Invitation performances at the 2005 Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, it was clear that this was something that couldn't be a one-shot deal. The quartet—featuring original members Steve Swallow (electric bass) and Burton (vibes) alongside drummer Antonio Sanchez (a newcomer to the group, but an ever-present partner with Metheny since the guitarist's Speaking of Now (Warner Bros., 2002))—was simply having too much fun. Regrouping a couple years later for a lengthy tour, the resulting Quartet Live not only documents the tour, it's the live album Burton never put out—but should have—back in the day.



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, Samuel T Brown and Jerry Hahn to Mick Goodrick and, finally, Metheny.



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'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."



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 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.



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 climax—seems 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.

Visit Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, Steve Swallow and Antonio Sanchez on the web.


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.

Title: Quartet Live | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Concord Music Group


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Slægt CD/LP/Track Review Slægt
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 24, 2017
Read An Eye on the Future CD/LP/Track Review An Eye on the Future
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 24, 2017
Read Cherry ‎– Sakura CD/LP/Track Review Cherry ‎– Sakura
by John Sharpe
Published: September 24, 2017
Read Blow, Strike & Touch CD/LP/Track Review Blow, Strike & Touch
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 24, 2017
Read Elusive CD/LP/Track Review Elusive
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Transitions CD/LP/Track Review Transitions
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 23, 2017
Read "From Two Balconies" CD/LP/Track Review From Two Balconies
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 21, 2017
Read "Third Stage of Elegance" CD/LP/Track Review Third Stage of Elegance
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 6, 2017
Read "Guitar Fantasies" CD/LP/Track Review Guitar Fantasies
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: November 2, 2016
Read "Translator's Note" CD/LP/Track Review Translator's Note
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 28, 2017
Read "Think Ahead" CD/LP/Track Review Think Ahead
by Geannine Reid
Published: June 2, 2017
Read "Vars & Kaper:Deconstruction" CD/LP/Track Review Vars & Kaper:Deconstruction
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 29, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.