Time for a trip down McLaughlin Memory Lane. Next stop, Gary Burton records. It’s sort of difficult to explain just how influential Burton records have been on my own music making, because I have been listening to him since I was, uh, born (probably). I know for sure that Duke Ellington and the Beatles are from back in the day (when I was knee high to a grasshopper). But Burton? Well, some of my earliest jazz memories include memorizing the solos on Getz Au Go Go, which featured Burton prominently. I remember checking out Who Is Gary Burton?, which was a bit scratched (I hope I didn’t do that), so it wasn’t as fun to listen to. I also remember somehow equating Berklee with Burton, which made my interest in moving to Boston to go to Berklee that much stronger. Then, on the Berklee quest, when I discovered all the musicians whose music I loved…who had attended Berklee…well, I flipped. So here I am, in my nice little world, playing and loving music, and with Burton and his music having had a lot to do with that. I have a few more CDs (as is so often the case – I’m thinking of adding CDs to this process so I can be somewhat more comprehensive), but the LPs in the collection are:
- The Time Machine – This is a rare, early example of using the advantages of tape recording to record an album. Burton overdubbed piano and vibes, with a couple of Steve Swallow bass performances and drums and percussion (courtesy of Larry Bunker) on just about every track. A lovely “Chega De Saudade” and brilliant “Falling Grace.”
- Duster – The first Burton album I ever heard (except maybe Who is Gary Burton?). My dad had this on LP, and I remember getting this album confused with Herbie Hancock’s Third Plane because the album covers are similar (to the eye of the average 6 year old). Early, amazing Larry Coryell (guitar), great Swallow and Roy Haynes. Some tunes by Michael Gibbs – I had a chance to meet him shortly after I moved to Boston (at Berklee – my ear training teacher was Gibbs’ friend, and Gibbs was an artist in residence for the year). I was – get this – too shy. I love his writing.
- Lofty Fake Anagram – Ok, now here’s something. Coryell is absolutely genius on this album, which is a pretty challenging feat, given how great this album is. More great tunes by Gibbs and Steve Swallow, plus Duke Ellington and (a personal fave) Carla Bley. Bobby Moses sets a standard on this LP.
- Country Roads & Other Places – Not exactly my favorite album. Swallow and Burton are great, but I don’t quite connect with the material (even with Gibbs and Bley tunes on here). Guitarist Jerry Hahn sounds great and Roy Haynes is wonderful as always.
- Gary Burton & Keith Jarrett – Scott Yanow (All Music Guide) suggests that these two return to see how they get along now. Nice Jarrett and Swallow originals on this, and Sam Brown (on guitar) is so, so good. I can’t seem to get enough of his guitar playing; I have many records with him on guitar, and he’s always fantastic. Bill Goodwin, on drums, is totally great.
- Paris Encounter – Gary Burton & Stephane Grappelli, with Burton’s band (Swallow and Goodwin). I would love to know the back story on this one. A very unlikely pairing, in my opinion. Still, they make some great music. Especially lovely are Swallow’s “Falling Grace” and Gibbs’ “Sweet Rain” (man, I love his writing. Did I say that already?) But the best part of this album is the rockin’ band photo on the back cover. Nice cape.
- Seven Songs for Quartet and Chamber Orchestra – This LP is all about Gibbs’ writing and orchestrations, which are just gorgeous. Mick Goodrick enters the picture and plays brilliantly (as always). More on the Gibbs/Burton pairing when I get to Gibbs’ In the Public Interest.
- Ring – This one knocks me out. It’s great, but the thing that totally pushes me over the edge is Eberhard Weber’s playing. I ADORE his playing, and his writing. Actually, I might be the only person on the planet (really!) to have recorded a cover of “Colours of Chloe”. It’s on my CD, Study of Light. He plays so great on this LP, as do Mick Goodrick, Pat Metheny, Steve Swallow, and Bob Moses (whose playing on “Colours…” is practically hardcore).
- Hotel Hello – I purchased this album because of decades of seeing this LP referenced in the Real Book. It didn’t really do much for me the first time or two I heard it. It’s nice, but… Well, having said that, “Vashkar” is very, very interesting.
- Passengers – Gasp! Sigh! Oh…My…God…I…Love…This…Album. The LP listening/blogging project hasn’t really turned up too many recordings as influential to yours truly as this one. Ok, so what if I learned/transcribed Paul Desmond’s solo on “Take Five” when I was in 3rd grade? Anyway, gasp, I love this album, and I always have, from the first time I put the needle to the vinyl. Burton, Goodrick, Metheny, Swallow, Weber, and Danny Gottlieb (on drums). They play some Metheny originals, and the greatest (IMO) version of “Sea Journey”. I love the tunes, the arrangements, the sound, the playing, and this album flipped me out enough that I found myself on a mission to learn more about Eberhard Weber (Herr Weber, call me!). A-ma-zing.
- Times Square – A great album, with my favorite version of Swallow’s “Como en Vietnam.”
- Duet – It’s nice. I like Crystal Silence more, but hey, this is a nice one too.
So, on to the next great musician! I wonder who it will be? Actually, I have a couple of Greg Burk CDs to finish up and write something about.