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Burton, Gary

Gary Burton

Vibraharpist, composer, bandleader

Jazz musician and Percussive Arts Society Hall of Famer Gary Burton has spent more than three decades playing the vibraharp and is credited with both revolutionizing the instrument's sound and broadening the jazz audience as a whole. While he was still in his teens, the budding musical innovator adopted the use of additional mallets—traditional vibraharps make use of only two—to maximize the xylophone-like instrument's lush vibrato and resonance. The two-time Grammy Award winner then pioneered the fusion movement in the middle 1960s when he integrated pop devices, folk, country, and rock rhythms with jazz. In 1965 he and his group donned the casual dress of the Beatles' generation in an effort to capture fans from a younger generation. In an interview with Bill Milkowski in Down Beat, Burton commented on the universality of jazz and its inherent power to cross lines of age, race, and gender, saying that "the attraction of jazz … is this improbable combination of the spontaneous and emotional with something that is also intellectually challenging and stimulating."

Born January 23, 1943, in Anderson, Indiana, Burton began music lessons at an early age upon the insistence of his parents, who wanted all of their children to study an instrument. Intrigued by one particular instrument's size and method of play—namely, the use of mallets to create its rich sound—the six-year-old Burton chose the marimba. However, his venture into music seemed ill-fated when he refused to budge from his seat at his first lesson. Upon returning home with his mother, he begged her to let him try again and within a short time mastered both the marimba and the more modern vibraharp.

Soon Burton was adapting both piano and violin music for his instruments. By the age of eleven, he was performing around his hometown of Princeton, Indiana, with a band that consisted of his father, brother, and sister. Four years later, when his piano teacher loaned him an Erroll Garner record, Burton developed a serious interest in jazz. In 1959, at the age of 16, Burton attended the first summer jazz band camp at Bloomington, Indiana, and decided on the spot that he wanted to be a professional musician. "Before that I thought I was playing for fun," Burton told High Fidelity, "and I always pictured myself playing weekends to make some money, but I intended to be something serious—like a doctor, lawyer, or an engineer."

On graduating from Princeton High School in 1960, Burton planned on entering the Berklee College of Music in Boston but was sidetracked by a chance to play gigs in Nashville. As a teenager Burton had met "Yakety Sax" man Boots Randolph. A mentor to Burton with close ties to Nashville, Randolph introduced the budding musician to Hank Garland, who then asked Burton to join him playing clubs and recording in Nashville that summer. "That one sojourn to Nashville was more of an aberration than anything else," Burton said in the High Fidelity profile. By 1961 Burton was anxious to leave for Boston, where he studied jazz at Berklee and classical composition at the Boston Conservatory.

Primarily self-taught, Burton had already perfected a four-to-six mallet vibe playing technique at a time when two mallets were standard. Boston was as intrigued as Nashville had been by this innovation, but Burton spent only two years at Berklee and the Boston Conservatory before heading to New York in 1963. He joined pianist George Shearing's quintet in New York, and soon learned that working with seasoned professionals would expose his shortcomings as a soloist. Burton's next apprenticeship came when he joined tenor saxophonist Stan Getz a year later. Getz had popularized the bossa nova blend of jazz and Brazilian folk rhythms with his 1964 megahit The Girl from Ipanema, and Burton received television and movie exposure while playing at jazz festivals, concerts, and clubs. By 1965 his visibility netted him Down Beat's Talent Deserving Wider Recognition Award.

In 1967 Burton formed his own band with guitarist Larry Coryell, bassist Eddie Gomez, and drummer Joe Hunt, breaking several jazz precedents. As an improvisor and composer, Burton opted for a repertoire of both original compositions and jazz standards. As his band incorporated new and old material, the players shed the universal suit and tie attire of jazz artists. The younger market responded when Burton released Duster, which became the forerunner of the fusion movement in 1967. Critics called his innovations "gimmicky" at the time, but hindsight has since credited Burton with perpetuating jazz at a time when the musical form was in danger of extinction. "If you are original," Burton told High Fidelity, "you get a lot of grief in the beginning. But once you get established, you get recognized as having something special."

Successful since his debut, Burton has been named top player on vibes in numerous Down Beat readers' and critics' polls. He won his first Grammy Award in 1971 for Alone At Last, a recording of his solo performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival that same year. His second Grammy followed in 1979, for Best Group Performance on the album Duet with keyboardist Chick Corea. Burton has worked with a long list of other legendary jazz artists as well, including Stephane Grappelli, Steve Swallow, "Tango Destroyer" Astor Piazzolla, Keith Jarrett, Ralph Towner, Jerry Hahn, Mick Goodrick, Pat Metheny, John Scofield, and Peter Erskine. "Without sacrificing the energy or the poetry of his playing," wrote Ron Givens in Stereo Review, "Burton has made music like an insatiable scholar."

Burton and his wife, Cricket, raised two children while he was performing, teaching, and recruiting musicians. A permanent staff member who is also dean of curriculum planning and development at Berklee, Burton is known for shaping the careers of new artists. "There's some excitement about a young player developing," Burton told Milkowski. "You feel like it rubs off on you a little. You find it inspiring and rejuvenating. It keeps your own music from becoming routine and repetitive." Burton also authored an instructional booklet, The Musician's Guide to the Road, with jazz students in mind. A leader of "thoughtful" jazz, Burton has continued to find the time to initiate young sidemen in a style so uniquely his own that critics refer to his play as "textbook Burton." "I keep telling myself I'll cut back," Burton told Fred Bouchard in Down Beat about the future, "but that moment hasn't arrived." In early 1992 Burton teamed with clarinetist Eddie Daniels at Pasadena's Ambassador Theater for a knockout 1930s big band/swing retrospective featuring the music of Benny Goodman and Lionel Hampton.

Burton's public admission of homosexuality in the mid-1980s did nothing to slow the admiration of critics and the public. "The public makes a lot more fuss about pop artists' marriages, divorces, sexuality, drunken escapades, whatever. I was able to come out without [any] negative consequences," he told a reporter for The Advocate in 2005. He retired as executive vice president of Berklee College of Music and moved to Fort Lauderdale "because there is an active and friendly gay scene."

In the late 1990s, Burton re-teamed with alumni from his most popular group lineups to record Like Minds. The legendary vibes man was able to corral Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, Roy Haynes, and Dave Holland in the studio. "Pat contacted me, wondering if Chick and I would be interested in recording with him," Burton explained to a Billboard reporter in 1998. "I was surprised to find out that Pat and Chick had never played together. Interestingly, Pat attended the very first duet gig Chick and I ever did. He was around 20 years old at the time, playing in my band. He thought it would be his only chance to see Chick and I play together."

While age has slowed Burton's recording and touring somewhat, he has continued doing both into the early 2000s. Long ago acknowledged as a master of his craft, he has reached legendary status during his lifetime and remains a vital performer, bandleader, and composer.

For the Record …

Born January 23, 1943, in Anderson, IN; wife's name, Cricket; children: two. Education: Attended Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory, 1961-63.

Began recording in Nashville, TN, 1960; toured with pianist George Shearing, 1963; performed with saxophonist Stan Getz, 1964-67; bandleader, 1964-; appeared at Newport Jazz Festival, 1970, and Montreux Festival, 1971; staff member at Berklee College of Music; author of The Musician's Guide to the Road.

Awards: Down Beat awards: named Talent Deserving Wider Recognition, 1965; Jazzman of the Year, 1968; numerous citations in the magazine's readers' and critics' polls, 1968-; Grammy Awards: Best Solo Performance, for Alone at Last, 1971; Best Group Performance, for Duet, 1979; inducted into Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame, 1989.

Addresses: Record company—Concord Music Group, Inc., 100 Crescent Dr., Ste. 275, Beverly Hills, CA 90210, phone: (800) 551-5299. Website—Gary Burton Official Website: http://www.garyburton.com.

Selected discography

New Vibe Man in Town, RCA Victor, 1962.

Who Is Gary Burton?, RCA Victor, 1962.

3 in Jazz, RCA, 1963.

Something's Coming, RCA, 1963.

The Groovy Sound of Music, Bluebird/RCA, 1963.

The Time Machine, RCA, 1966.

Tennessee Firebird, RCA, 1966.

Duster, Koch, 1967.

Lofty Fake Anagram, RCA, 1967.

A Genuine Tong Funeral, BMG/RCA Bluebird, 1967.

Gary Burton Quartet in Concert, RCA, 1968.

Country Roads and Other Places, RCA, 1968.

Throb, Atlantic, 1969.

Good Vibes, Atlantic, 1969.

Paris Encounter, Atlantic, 1969.

(With Stephane Grappelli) Paris Encounter, Atlantic, 1970.

Gary Burton & Keith Jarrett, Atlantic, 1971.

Live in Tokyo, Atlantic, 1971.

Alone at Last, Atlantic, 1971.

Crystal Silence, ECM, 1972.

Works, ECM, 1972.

The New Quartet, ECM, 1973.

Seven Songs for Quartet and Chamber Orchestra, ECM, 1973.

Hotel Hello, ECM, 1974.

(With Eberhard Weber) Ring, ECM, 1974.

Matchbook, ECM, 1974.

Dreams So Real, ECM, 1975.

Passengers, ECM, 1976.

Times Square, ECM, 1978.

Duet, ECM, 1979.

Easy as Pie, ECM, 1980.

Picture This, ECM, 1982.

Real Life Hits, ECM, 1984.

Gary Burton and the Berklee All-Stars, JVC, 1985.

Whiz Kids, ECM, 1986.

Slide Show, ECM, 1986.

Times Like These, GRP, 1988.

Reunion, GRP, 1989.

Right Time, Right Place, GNP/Crescendo, 1990.

Cool Nights, GRP, 1991.

Green Apple (recorded 1969), Moon, 1992.

Six Pack, GRP, 1992.

(With Eddie Daniels) Benny Rides Again, GRP, 1992.

(Contributor) Weird Nightmare: Meditations on Mingus, Columbia, 1992.

It's Another Day, GRP, 1993.

Face to Face, GRP, 1994.

Live in Cannes, Jazz World, 1996.

Astor Piazzolla Reunion: A Tango Excursion, Concord Jazz, 1996.

Departure, Concord Jazz, 1997.

Like Minds, Concord Jazz, 1998.

Libertango: The Music of Astor Piazzolla, Concord Jazz, 2000.

For Hamp, Ted, Bags, and Cal, Concord Jazz, 2001.

Virtuosi, Concord, 2002.

Music of Duke Ellington, LRC Ltd., 2003.

Generations, Concord Jazz, 2004.

Next Generation, Concord, 2005.

Live In Montreux: 2002, Eagle Eye, 2006.

Sources

Periodicals

Advocate, April 1, 1997; Aug. 30, 2005.

Atlanta Constitution, November 20, 1992.

Billboard, November 21, 1998.

Boston Globe, January 28, 1993.

Down Beat, December 21, 1978; January 11, 1979; December 1979; January 1983; July 1988; April 1989; August 1989; March 1990; April 1992; December 1992.

High Fidelity, August 1981.

Los Angeles Times, January 18, 1992.

Rolling Stone, November 16, 1978.

Senior Scholastic, April 25, 1968.

Stereo Review, March 1989; May 1990; February 1993.

Time, March 1, 1968.

World Monitor, July 1992.

Online

All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (Jan. 18, 2007).

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"Burton, Gary." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Burton, Gary

Gary Burton

Vibraharpist, composer, bandleader

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Jazz musician and Percussive Arts Society Hall of Famer Gary Burton has spent more than three decades playing the vibraharp and is credited with both revolutionizing the instruments sound and broadening the jazz audience as a whole. While he was still in his teens, the budding musical innovator adopted the use of additional malletstraditional vibraharps make use of only twoto maximize the xylophone-like instruments lush vibrato and resonance. The two-time Grammy Award winner then pioneered the fusion movement in the middle 1960s when he integrated pop devices, folk, country, and rock rhythms with jazz. In 1965, he and his group donned the casual dress of the Beatles generation in an effort to capture fans from a younger generation. In an interview with Bill Milkowski in Down Beat, Burton commented on the universality of jazz and its inherent power to cross lines of age, race, and gender. He stated: The attraction of jazz ... is this improbable combination of the spontaneous and emotional with something that is also intellectually challenging and stimulating.

Born January 23, 1943, in Anderson, Indiana, Burton began music lessons at an early age upon the insistence of his parents, who wanted all of their children to study an instrument. Intrigued by one particular instruments size and method of playnamely, the use of mallets to create its rich soundthe six-year-old Burton chose the marimba. However, his venture into music seemed ill-fated when he refused to budge from his seat at his first lesson. Upon returning home with his mother, he begged her to let him try again and within a short time mastered both the marimba and the more modern vibraharp.

Soon Burton was adapting both piano and violin music for his instruments. By the age of eleven, he was performing around his hometown of Princeton, Indiana, with a band that consisted of his father, brother, and sister. Four years later, when his piano teacher loaned him an Erroll Garner record, Burton developed a serious interest in jazz. In 1959, at the age of sixteen, Burton attended the first summer jazz band camp at Bloomington, Indiana, and decided on the spot that he wanted to be a professional musician. Before that I thought I was playing for fun, Burton told High Fidelity, and I always pictured myself playing weekends to make some money, but I intended to be something seriouslike a doctor, lawyer, or an engineer.

On graduating from Princeton High School in 1960, Burton planned on entering the Berklee School of Music in Boston but was sidetracked by a chance to play gigs in Nashville. As a teenager, Burton had met Yakety Sax man Boots Randolph. A mentor to Burton with close ties to Nashville, Randolph introduced the budding

For the Record

Born January 23, 1943, in Anderson, IN; wifes name, Cricket; children: two. Education : Attended Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory, 1961-1963.

Began recording in Nashville, TN, 1960; toured with pianist George Shearing, 1963; performed with saxophonist Stan Getz, 1964-1967; bandleader, 1964; appeared at Newport Jazz Festival, 1970, and Montreux Festival, 1971. Staff member at Berklee College. Author of The Musicians Guide to the Road.

Awards: Named talent deserving wider recognition, 1965, Down Beat; named jazzman of the year, 1968, Down Beat; numerous citations in Down Beats readers and critics polls, since 1968; Grammy awards for best solo performance, 1971, for Alone at Last, and best group performance, 1979, for Duet; inducted into Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame, 1989.

Addresses: Record company GRP Records, 555 West 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

musician to Hank Garland, who then asked Burton to join him playing clubs and recording in Nashville that summer. That one sojourn to Nashville was more of an aberration than anything else, Burton said in the High Fidelity profile. By 1961 Burton was anxious to leave for Boston, where he studied jazz at Berklee and classical composition at the Boston Conservatory.

Primarily self-taught, Burton had already perfected a four-to-six mallet vibe playing technique at a time when two mallets were standard. Boston was as intrigued as Nashville had been by this innovation, but Burton spent only two years at Berklee and the Boston Conservatory before heading to New York in 1963. He joined pianist George Shearings quintet in New York and soon learned that working with seasoned professionals would expose his shortcomings as a soloist. Burtons next apprenticeship came when he joined tenor saxophonist Stan Getz a year later. Since Getz had popularized the bossa nova blend of jazz and Brazilian folk rhythms with his 1964 hit The Girl from Ipanema, Burton received television and movie exposure while playing at important jazz festivals, concerts, and clubs. By 1965 his visibility netted him Down Beats Talent Deserving Wider Recognition Award.

In 1967 Burton formed his own band with guitarist Larry Coryell, bassist Eddie Gomez, and drummer Joe Hunt, breaking several jazz precedents. As improvisor and composer, Burton opted for a repertoire of both original compositions and jazz standards. As his band incorporated new and old material, the players shed the universal suit and tie attire of jazz artists. The younger market responded when Burton released Duster, which became the forerunner of the fusion movement in 1967. Critics called his innovations gimmicky at the time, but hindsight has since credited Burton with perpetuating jazz at a time when the musical from was in danger of extinction. If you are original, Burton told High Fidelity, you get a lot of grief in the beginning. But once you get established, you get recognized as having something special.

Successful since his debut, Burton has been named top player on vibes in numerous Down Beat readers and critics polls. He won his first Grammy Award in 1971 for Alone At Last, a recording of his solo performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival that same year. His second Grammy followed in 1979 for best group performance on the album Duet, with keyboardist Chick Corea. Burton has worked with a long list of other legendary jazz artists as well, including Stephane Grappelli, Steve Swallow, Tango Destroyer Astor Piazzolla, Keith Jarrett, Ralph Towner, Jerry Hahn, Mick Goodrick, Pat Metheny, John Scofield, and Peter Erskine. Without sacrificing the energy or the poetry of his playing, wrote Ron Givens in Stereo Review 1989, Burton has made music like an insatiable scholar.

Burton and his wife, Cricket, raised two children while he was performing, teaching, and recruiting musicians. A permanent staff member who is also dean of curriculum planning and development at Berklee, Burton is known for shaping the careers of new artists. Theres some excitement about a young player developing, Burton told Milkowski in Down Beat. You feel like it rubs off on you a little. You find it inspiring and rejuvenating. It keeps your own music from becoming routine and repetitive. Burton also authored an instructional booklet, The Musicians Guide to the Road, with jazz students in mind. A leader of thoughtful jazz, Burton continues to find the time to initiate young sidemen in a style so uniquely his own that critics refer to his play as textbook Burton. I keep telling myself Ill cut back, Burton told Fred Bouchard in Down Beat about the future, but that moment hasnt arrived. Evidence of this came in early 1992 when Burton teamed with clarinetist Eddie Daniels at Pasadenas Ambassador Theater for a knockout 1930s big band/swing retrospective, featuring the music of Benny Goodman and Lionel Hampton.

Selected discography

Duster, RCA, 1967.

(With Stephane Grappelli) Paris Encounter, Atlantic, 1970.

Alone at Last, Atlantic, 1971.

(With Steve Swallow) Hotel Hello, ECM, 1974, reissued, 1992.

Dreams So Real, ECM, 1975.

Passengers, ECM, 1976.

Easy as Pie, ECM, 1980.

Picture This, ECM, 1983.

Gary Burton and the Berklee All-Stars, JVC, 1985.

Times Like These, GRP, 1986.

Real Life Hits, ECM, 1987.

Whiz Kids, ECM, 1987.

(With Eberhard Weber) Ring (recorded 1974), ECM, 1987.

Reunion, GRP, 1990.

(With Paul Bley) Right TimeRight Place, GNP/Crescendo, 1991.

Green Apple (recorded 1969), Moon, 1992.

Six Pack, GRP, 1992.

(With Eddie Daniels) Benny Rides Again, GRP, 1992.

(Contributor) Weird Nightmare: Meditations on Mingus, Columbia, 1992.

Time Machine, RCA.

Tennessee Firebird, RCA.

Lofty Fake Anagram, RCA.

In Concert, RCA.

Genuine Tong Funeral, RCA.

Country Roads, RCA.

Throb, Atlantic.

Good Vibes, Atlantic.

The New Quartet, ECM.

In the Public Interest, Poly dor.

Times Square, ECM.

(With Keith Jarrett)... And Keith Jarrett, Atlantic.

(With Stan Getz) Getz au Go Go, Verve.

(With Astor Piazzolla) The New Tango, Atlantic.

Cool Nights, GRP.

With Chick Corea

Crystal Silence, ECM, 1972.

Duet, ECM, 1978.

Lyric Suite for Sextet, ECM, 1993.

In Concert: Zurich (recorded 1979), ECM.

With Ralph Towner

Matchbook, ECM, 1974.

Slide Show, ECM, 1986.

Sources

Atlanta Constitution, November 20, 1992.

Boston Globe, January 28, 1993.

Down Beat, December 21, 1978; January 11, 1979; December 1979; January 1983; July 1988; April 1989; August 1989; March 1990; April 1992; December 1992.

High Fidelity, August 1981.

Los Angeles Times, January 18, 1992.

Rolling Stone, November 16, 1978.

Senior Scholastic, April 25, 1968.

Stereo Review, March 1989; May 1990; February 1993.

Time, March 1, 1968.

World Monitor, July 1992.

Marjorie Burgess

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Burton, Gary." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Burton, Gary." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/burton-gary

"Burton, Gary." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/burton-gary