By assembling an all-star team of straight-ahead jazz minds, vibraphonist Gary Burton reminds us that musical composition and creative performance interaction soar aloft only when the standards are held high. His 27 years of service with the Berklee College of Music in Boston – including a 10-year tour of duty as dean of curriculum and current position as executive vice president – have undoubtedly influenced the leader’s judgement as to what makes a product valuable.
With a light waltz rhythm similar to that of John Coltrane’s «My Favorite Things,» Burton’s ensemble opens the session with Pat Metheny’s «Question and Answer.» The light touch from Metheny’s guitar blends with the vibraphone’s soft mallet peals to produce a landscape for viewing with a relaxed mood. George Gershwin’s «Soon» is performed as straight-ahead material with solo spots from guitar, vibraphone, piano, and with fours between bass and drums. The piano and acoustic bass emphasize the mainstream tradition, and this particular arrangement is a fine tribute to its composer. «Like Minds» is an up-tempo piece with group interplay and several unison segments that emphasize the ensemble’s unique sound: a vibraphone lead, supported by additional melodies from piano & guitar, propelled by rhythms from bass & drums, and colored by a group harmony based on consonance. «Straight Up and Down» moves at a fast pace, but with shifting rhythmic patterns that underlie the solo voices. Chick Corea, Metheny, Burton, Dave Holland, and Roy Haynes each stretch out on this one, reminding the listener that creativity starts with the individual and spreads. «Country Roads» opens with Holland’s bass marking the trail and proceeds to take the listener along a comfortable journey; the clip-clop of horse’s hooves is subtle, but it serves nevertheless to offer an image open for interpretation. Corea begins his «Windows» alone at the keyboard; the lead is passed from piano to guitar to vibraphone and back. Like watching the world through a window, the listener is able to relax and feel the rhythms surging while the ensemble provides nonstop motion. The gentle blend of sounds and intricate underlying rhythms of Burton’s session make it a highly enjoyable recording. Highly recommended.
Personnel Listing:Gary Burton- vibraphone; Pat Metheny- guitar; Chick Corea- piano; Dave Holland- bass; Roy Haynes- drums.
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