– I just got back from Birdland, where Gary Burton is appearing with his new quintet through Saturday. If you took my advice and bought their brand-new CD, Next Generation, you won’t need any further urging to go. Burton is, as ever and always, one of jazz’s most thoughtful and creative virtuosos, and he never fails to surround himself with high-class sidemen. Teenage whiz-kid guitarist Julian Lage, for instance, has come a long, long way since I first saw him with Burton a year ago: he’s now officially a monster. (For those of you who don’t speak jazz, that’s a good thing.)
This was, by the way, the first chance I’ve ever had to watch Burton play vibes up close and from the front. Seeing him manipulate his four mallets at something approaching Mach 2 is like chatting with a member of a more highly evolved species, which is why I found it oddly comforting when he accidentally dropped two mallets on the floor midway through his solo on Lage’s “First Impression.” It made me feel, oh, maybe one-tenth of one percent less clumsy than usual. It also reminded me of George Bernard Shaw’s suggestion to the young Jascha Heifetz (probably apocryphal, but it’s the sort of thing Shaw would have said to Heifetz) that he play at least one wrong note every night before going to bed “because the gods are jealous of perfection.” Me, too.
– Dena DeRose, one of my favorite singer-pianists, opens Friday at the Jazz Standard for a three-day run. She, too, has a new CD, A Walk in the Park, on which she demonstrates the tremendous growth in her singing since she first hit Manhattan a decade or so ago. Her sidemen for the album and the gig are Martin Wind and Matt Wilson, to whom the cognoscenti need no introduction. I’ll be there on Sunday.
P.S. Both clubs have good kitchens. Take advantage of them.