Sunday, August 10, 2014

Gary Burton Pioneering Fusion Band in Concert (video)

I recently discovered this outstanding live concert of the Gary Burton Quartet, which can arguably be called the first jazz rock fusion group.

Gary Burton (wikipedia,, website)  has had a very long and distinguished career as a vibraphonist and combo leader. Burton innovated the four-mallet style of playing vibes, a revolutionary and now often emulated method of playing.

Burton was also a pioneer of jazz-rock fusion.  In 1967, he formed the Gary Burton Quartet with Larry Coryell on guitar, drummer Roy Haynes, and bassist Steve Swallow. (Bob Moses is on drums in the video.) The GBQ got there before Mile Davis, who began to turn electric with Miles in the Sky and Files de Kilamanjaro in 1968 and In a Silent Way in 1969. And, they got there with excellence.  Burton was recognized as Downbeat magazine's "Jazzman of the Year" in 1968.

I bought those Davis albums and several of Burton's when they were new and fresh and, you know what, they still hold up.

The Burton Quartet with Coryell recorded these albums

Coryell left the group in 1968, replaced by Jerry Hahn, and, later, a string of other outstanding guitarists.

More on the Burton group with Hahn in the near future.

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