Over the course of his remarkable 50-year career, Burton has remained one of the great vibes players, an honest auteur with a singular modern sound and four-mallet technique that has kept him at the forefront of jazz starting with the debut of his first quartet in 1967 that featured Larry Coryell, Roy Haynes and Steve Swallow. Burton’s longevity is due partly to his commitment to new talent – younger musicians with something to say – and the debut of his new quartet proves it.
On “Common Ground” (Mack Avenue Records), bassist Scott Colley and the drummer Antonio Sanchez each pitch their own compositions (“Never The Same Way” and “Did You Get It,” an energetic jolt of the blues) and they always frame Burton’s glistening sound with a soulful vibe. But the star turn here is by guitarist Julian Lage, a Burton discovery with a head full of ideas and an uncommon capacity for serving up evocative originals (“Etude” and “Banksy”). Burton readily admits his fondness for the vibraphone-guitar sound and that dynamic is perfected tune after tune. Highlights include the title track (another Sanchez bright spot), an arrestingly novel treatment of “My Funny Valentine” featuring an extended solo intro by Lage, and the closer written by Keith Jarrett called “In Your Quiet Place,” a late night love letter that lingers with an expressive melody and a quiet intensity. (10 tracks: 66:04 minutes)
Labels: Antonio Sanchez, Gary Burton, Julian Lage, Mack Avenue Records, Scott Colley