Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
One of the two great vibraphonists to emerge in the 1960s (along with Bobby Hutcherson), Gary Burton's remarkable four-mallet technique (best displayed on an unaccompanied version of "No More Blues" from 1971) can make him sound like two or three players at once. He recorded in a wide variety of settings and always sounds distinctive. Self-taught on vibes, Burton made his recording debut with country guitarist Hank Garland when he was 17, started recording regularly for RCA in 1961, and toured with George Shearing's quintet in 1963. He gained some fame while with Stan Getz's piano-less quartet during 1964-1966, and then put together his own groups. In 1967, with guitarist Larry Coryell, he led one of the early "fusion" bands; Coryell would later be succeeded by Sam Brown, Mick Goodrick, John Scofield, Jerry Hahn, and Pat Metheny. Burton recorded duet sets with Chick Corea (they also toured extensively), Ralph Towner, Steve Swallow, and Paul Bley, and collaborated on an album apiece with Stéphane Grappelli and Keith Jarrett. Among his sidemen in the late '70s and '80s were Makoto Ozone, Tiger Okoshi, and Tommy Smith. Very active as an educator at Berklee since joining its faculty in 1971, Burton (who teamed up with Eddie Daniels in the early '90s for an interesting Benny Goodman/Lionel Hampton tribute tour and recording) remained a prominent stylist. He recorded during different periods of his career extensively for RCA, Atlantic, ECM, GRP, and Concord, releasing Like Minds through the latter in 1998. Two years later, Libertango, his tribute to tango master Astor Piazzolla, arrived. The very personal composition For Hamp, Red, Bags, and Cal was issued in 2001 and in 2002 he explored classical music with the duet album Virtuosi, recorded with pianist Makoto Ozone. The year 2004 found Burton back on more familiar ground with the release of Generations, a bop-influenced album featuring a quartet of younger musicians. Burton paired with the same group for 2005's Next Generation. In 2009, Burton released Quartet Live featuring guitarist Pat Metheny and bassist Steve Swallow on Concord. In 2012, he released another duet recording with Corea entitled Hot House. In August of 2013, the vibraphonist released Guided Tour by the New Gary Burton Quartet on Mack Avenue Records. His new bandmates included drummer Antonio Sanchez, bassist Scott Colley, and guitarist Julian Lage.