GARY BURTON’s innovations in jazz, especially his approach to the vibraphone and his mastery of simultaneous four-mallet playing, have been the hallmark of a career that has spanned four decades. His five Grammy awards and 13 Grammy nominations cross multiple categories and attest to the high regard his music has earned among his peers.
Looking back over his illustrious career, it may not be obvious why the jazz master would collaborate with the impressive, though untested, young guitar prodigy Julian Lage for his latest Concord Records album, titled Generations.
But it was in Burton’s late 1960s group that the electric guitar came into prominence as a leading instrument in jazz and where rock elements were first infused into a pulsating and virtuoso jazz mix. Ever since, Gary has enlisted an impressive list of young guitar players as collaborators.
His latest discovery, Julian Lage, heralds the next chapter in Burton’s illustrious career as mentor. Gary first encountered the 12-year-old Julian while the young prodigy was performing with a youth ensemble during the 1998 Grammy telecast. On Generations (a title inspired by the ageless rapport connecting the two musicians), the young guitarist joins the master vibraphonist to showcase, with remarkable and insightful playing, his own compositions along with tracks by Makoto Ozone, Oscar Peterson, and Carla Bley, among others.
Burton’s recent recording output has been prolific – a period that found him recording a successful batch of theme-oriented albums for Concord Records, including Libertango: The Music of Astor Piazzolla (2000); For Hamp, Red, Bags & Cal (2001); and Virtuosi, a classical vibes-piano duet album with Makoto Ozone (all three recordings received Grammy nominations).