Release date: April 29, 2002
In light of Chick Corea’s selected recordings, which included his classic duets with Gary Burton, the logic of association brings the latter into the spotlight in this fourth installment of ECM’s :rarum series. The vibraphonist’s career spanned a gamut of watershed moments in the 1970s and 80s, starting with The New Quartet of 1973. This evocative band with guitarist Mick Goodrick, bassist Abraham Laboriel, and drummer Harry Blazer renders Michael Gibbs’s “Four Or Less” as if it were an etude for the waking mind. Burton’s sound, here and throughout the compilation, is a force of connection—not only between the notes he is creating but also between the musicians at his side. A year later, Ring brought together his quintet with Eberhard Weber, interpreting the bassist’s own “The Colours Of Chloë” through the artistry of then-newcomer guitarist Pat Metheny, whose own “B & G (Midwestern Nights Dream)” graced the set list of the 1977 follow-up, Passengers.
In 1976, the quintet proper dealt a royal flush with its all-Carla Bley session Dreams So Real, of which the montage of “Ictus / Syndrome / Wrong Key Donkey” showcases Metheny’s electric 12-string and the bassing of Steve Swallow around Burton’s fiery expositions. Burton’s revamped quintet, now with Tommy Smith on tenor saxophone, drummer Martin Richards, and pianist Makoto Ozone, gives us Ozone’s “La Divetta” as heard on 1987’s Whiz Kids. Creating an atmosphere just humid enough to keep us feeling refreshed without being overwhelmed, Ozone shines in the ECM engineering foreground.
The Gary Burton Quartet fills in the remaining gaps of this collection. Between the late-night altoism of Jim Odgren in “Duke Ellington’s Sound Of Love” (Charles Mingus) from 1982’s Picture This and the marimba-licious tropicalism of “Ladies In Mercedes” (Steve Swallow) from 1985’s Real Life Hits, Burton’s colors are those of rain-slicked streets: blurred yet unmistakable in what they reflect.