Guided Tour by The New Gary Burton Quartet
Up front, I have to admit that my current “New Gary Burton Quartet” is my third band I have described as “New.” But the last time I said my band was “new” was 1973, so I guess it’s all right to bring out the title again. The current group became a band a few years ago, initially for a European tour that lasted about three weeks. I chose the musicians based on past experiences with each of them. Guitarist Julian Lage and I have been collaborating off and on for a dozen years, so he was a logical pick. I had also been playing quite a bit at the time with drummer Antonio Sanchez. Although I had not played so often with bassist Scott Colley, I knew his playing and more importantly, knew that he worked regularly with Antonio, which was a good omen.
Anyway, by the time that first tour was drawing to a close, I knew that this particular combination of musicians was one of those rare situations where the rapport is at the highest level. You hope for that kind of chemistry in every line-up of musicians, but it only happens a handful of times, even in a long career. I was so enthused about our new group, that I immediately planned a recording session as soon as we got back to the USA. The result was COMMON GROUND, our Mack Avenue CD released in 2011, after which we toured the USA, Europe and Japan, continuing to deepen our group identity and rapport.
Now, we are releasing our second CD, GUIDED TOUR (again on Mack Avenue), as before featuring mostly music written by all the members of the band. We have already toured with the new music in Europe (May 2013), and will be touring the USA in September and October.
I think one of the great strengths of The New Gary Burton Quartet is how the individual contributions of the musicians add up to a singular group identity. Even though the music covers a considerable range of stylistic influences, the overall project has a continuity reflecting our group sound and style. Typically, when I plan the repertoire for a new record, I often take the approach of choosing two compositions that I think most capture the vision I have in mind for the project. Then, I look for tunes that compliment either or both of those initial choices. The result is that the overall program tends to feel more like it belongs together. For GUIDED TOUR, the two songs that served as my guideposts were Caminos, by Antonio, and Helena, by Julian.
The early reviews have been over the top. The British jazz reviewers covering both the CD and our live performances in Britain in the spring, showered us with praise and encouragement. I’m hoping for a similar reception from the American press and audiences.
- Gary Burton