Jun 6, 2011
When I spoke with Gary Burton late last year (check out the podcast), he was anxiously awaiting the release of his New Quartet CD, Common Ground. Fans of the great vibraphonist need wait no longer. A strong effort from beginning to end, Common Ground successfully rivals much of Burton’s prior small group work. Given his more than forty years of recording, that says something special about the CD, Burton’s first for the Mack Avenue label.
The New Gary Burton Quartet is comprised of Burton, guitarist Julian Lage, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Antonio Sanchez. Sanchez was the bedrock of Burton’s Quartet Reunion tour that featured Pat Metheny and Steve Swallow a few years back, and he once again plays with deftness and tact. He is given few chances to step forward, but when he does (check the fiery “Did You Get It”, which he wrote for the group); he shows why he is the drummer of choice for so many these days.
Colley is a veteran
of Sanchez’ prior bands, and played with vibraphone great Bobby
Hutcherson in the mid-Nineties. As with Sanchez, his role is to
subtly hold things together, a task he is more than up to. He wrote
one of the CD’s strongest tunes, “Never the Same Way”, a 7/4 number
that allows Burton a wonderful melody to swing out on. Check
out that track and the rest of the CD at this
But it’s Julian Lage, perhaps the most promising jazz guitarist of the day, who truly shines on this release. He sits in a chair previously occupied by the likes of Metheny, Larry Coryell, John Scofield and Kurt Rosenwinkel, and he does them all proud. Whether he is taking fluid solos (“Never the Same Way”) or providing sonic density (Keith Jarrett's "In Your Quiet Place"), Lage shows his playing is mature beyond his years.