Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, Steve Swallow, Antonio Sanchez - Quartet Live

album review

Concord Jazz

Recording date: June 10th and 11th, 2007 at Yoshi's, Oakland, California

Release date: May 26th 2009

Availability: CD, MP3 Download

Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, Steve Swallow, Antonio Sanchez Quartet Live cover

When Pat Metheny suggested for the Montreal Jazz Festival in 2006 a one-off revival of the Gary Burton Quartet to recreate the music he used to play in the band when he was just starting out, he had no idea that three years later the project would still be creating a storm.

Gary Burton: "When we arrived at Montreal, I expected that we would just wail through the old tunes and have a few laughs. But the songs, though reminiscent of our original versions, were taking on new, fresh interpretations……. At the end of the concert, after several encores and bows, I wanted to suggest to Pat that we do some more gigs with the group…. I turned to Pat and said, "You know, Pat, I was just thinking that….." and he interrupted with, "I was thinking the same thing: we have to play some more with this band."

Tours of the USA, Europe and Japan have followed and are ongoing. "Quartet Live" captures the band in 2007 at Yoshi's, Oakland, California. It adds to Pat Metheny's recent and very successful return to a more mainstream approach to jazz – as in his recordings with Brad Mehldau and with Christian McBride/Antonio Sanchez.

Pat Metheny has spoken more than once about the formative influence on his career of both Gary Burton and bassist Steve Swallow when, as a 20 year old, he had joined them:

" …the time I spent in that band was the most important learning period in my career as a musician. Standing next to Gary for those three years, listening to him and having to follow him was an indescribable education in itself….. In (his) case, there is depth and width and height and proportion in nearly every solo that is truly something to behold."

Gary Burton Quartet photo
Photo credit: Klio

And he is equally appreciative of the influence of Steve Swallow:

"I can't say enough about Swallow. There are some particular things that he has brought to phrasing on a stringed instrument that are influential and persuasive to a whole generation of players – myself included. John Scofield and I have often compared notes on just how much we both have been affected by Steve's thing….. Steve especially encouraged me to compose and proceeded to give me fantastic ideas about how to think about writing in general."

Antonio Sanchez on drums completes the Quartet; again, according to Pat Metheny, he "freed us all up to dig deep, back into this material, with a whole new perspective on it."

The music is everything that would be expected; it is intelligent, uplifting, inspiring and absorbing. It restates, recaptures and extends the recognition of Gary Burton's tremendous influence on jazz.

There are many stand-out tracks. The version of Keith Jarrett's "Coral" is beautiful and meditative; the twelve bar blues "Walter L" – the first tune that Pat Metheny and Gary Burton had ever played together when the eighteen year old had asked to sit in to jam at a Wichita college jazz festival – is played as a joyous upbeat rocker; the two early Pat Metheny compositions - "B and G (Midwestern Night's Dream)" and "Missouri Uncompromised" (both appearing on "Bright Size Life") – form an interlude at the centre of the programme where the interplay with Gary Burton enters first the deepest meditative and then the most gloriously upbeat groove.

The two Steve Swallow compositions "Falling Grace" and "Hullo, Bolinas" and the two Carla Bley compositions "Olhos de Gato" and "Syndrome" are full of grace and invention. Along the way there is a beautiful version of Duke Ellington's "Fleurette Africaine".

The Chick Corea / Neville Potter composition "Sea Journey" is an effective opener while the album is rounded off with an extended version of Pat Metheny's "Question and Answer" which points back to rock guitar.

A very impressive album from an impressive line-up.

There is streaming audio of the tracks "Sea Journey" here and "Missouri Uncompromised" here.

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1 comment:

Stratoz said...

listening to this for the first time. I agree that it is great.