Book: Gary Burton

Gary Burton, Learning To Listen (Berklee Press)

Gary Burton LearningToListenAt the outset of his autobiography, as he turns 70 Burton makes it official again (the first time was in 1994): he’s gay. The vibraphonist then delivers an entertaining, informative and well-written account of his career, returning occasionally but not obsessively to his gayness. He isGary Burton Guided tour even-handed about the difficulties and rewards of working with Stan Getz, full of admiration for Duke Ellington, generous but clear-eyed in discussing colleagues including Chick Corea and Pat Metheny. An invaluable chapter discusses the conscious and unconscious processes of making improvised music. Burton’s superb new quartet CD Guided Tour, with guitarist Julian Lage, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Antonio Sanchez, is a fine companion to the book.

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  1. John Pickworth says

    Have just bought the kindle version of this & looking forward to reading it.
    Am leaving Boston on Sunday so will miss his gig at Scullers

    Doug! I enjoyed enjoyed the Take Five book immensely.

  2. Terence Smith says

    If it’s not off the subject:

    George Shearing was always one of Gary Burton’s biggest fans, as well as an early employer. Shearing seemed to take every opportunity to promote Gary Burton’s concepts.

    In the Shearing autobiography, LULLABY OF BIRDLAND, which has about 6 pages devoted to Burton, Shearing says that “you have to grow old enough to appreciate …the depth and simplicity of J.S Bach,” and then goes on to describe his “collaboration with Gary Burton on (the Capitol LP) OUT OF THE WOODS, which brought elements of Bach’s baroque style to the Quintet ( plus woodwinds).”

    In an interview in Len Lyons’ THE GREAT JAZZ PIANISTS ( circa 1980), Shearing was quoted as saying, ” I love Gary Burton’s musical mind so much that I fought with my record company to let me record an album composed and arranged by him ( OUT OF THE WOODS, Capitol LP)….Gary and I …did a two-piano piece on it, partly written and partly improvised…” When Len Lyons asked, “Gary Burton plays piano?” Shearing replied,
    ” Oh, boy, does Gary play piano!”

    I myself don’t have the Out of the Woods LP ( some of it is on you-tube), but I have always loved the way Burton played with the Shearing Quintet, as on the 1963 JAZZ CONCERT LP. And when George Shearing thinks someone has a well- organized musical mind, it’s quite a compliment.