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Guided Tour
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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Gary Burton (vibraphone); Julian Lage (guitar); Antonio Sanchez (drums).
  • Recording information: MSR Studios, New York, NY.
  • Photographers: Dena Katz; Jimmy Katz.
  • On its sophomore offering for Mack Avenue Records, the New Gary Burton Quartet reveals the musical maturity that naturally occurs when a disparate but extremely gifted group of players locks in as a band. Vibraphonist Burton, guitarist Julian Lage, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Antonio Sanchez made their debut with 2012's Common Ground, a date steeped in fine originals from all the players, as well as a few covers. That blend is no different here, though the emphasis changes a bit. For starters, Burton, who is notoriously reticent as a composer, actually contributes two pieces to this set. The first is a revisit of "Remembering Tano," a tango written for the late Astor Piazzolla (featuring gorgeous arco work from Colley), and the lithe swing that makes up the backbone of "Jane Fonda Called Again." The young, supremely gifted Lage (who debuted with Burton at the age of 12, adding to the vibraphonist's own legacy of showcasing brilliant guitarists in their youth -- both Pat Metheny and Larry Coryell began their careers with him) contributes three tunes. They include the strident post-bop blues of "The Lookout," and the rock-tinged, melodically challenging "Sunday's Uncle," which features lively, intensive exchanges between Lage and Burton. The latter tune is especially noticeable, but it poignantly highlights the guitarist's stylistic insistence on playing cleanly with no effects, no matter the tune. Sanchez bookends the record with knotty, post-fusion articulations on "Caminos," and offers a sophisticated, finger-popping swing on "Monkfish" as a closer. Colley's lone contribution is the sparse, elegant ballad "Legacy" -- an album highlight for its refinement and restraint. Michel Legrand's "Once Upon a Summertime" is given a lovely flamenco twist via Lage's nylon-string guitar and Colley's bowed bassline, while Fred Hersch's "Jackalope" is given a turbo-charged arrangement, making its harmonically complex head even more dynamic as Lage and Colley push Burton into an intricate, inventive, aggressive solo. While Guided Tour proves that this band has hit its stride and fires exquisitely on all cylinders, it also reveals, that at age 70, Burton's fire for pushing his creative edge as a bandleader, and as a soloist, still burns brightly. ~ Thom Jurek
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