Monday, May 7, 2018

Gary Burton & Pat Metheny - 2009 "Quartet Live"

Quartet Live is a 2009 live album by American jazz vibraphonist Gary Burton. The record also features Pat Metheny on guitar, Steve Swallow on bass, and Antonio Sanchez on drums. The album was recorded in June 10–11, 2007 at the Yoshi's jazz club and released in 2009 via Concard Jazz label.

When Gary Burton finally retired from his career as a Berklee administrator and professor, he also cut back on regular touring with a quartet, instead assembling groups for shorter durations. These performances come from two nights at Yoshi's in Oakland, reuniting the vibraphonist with former sidemen Pat Metheny and Steve Swallow, along with Metheny's regular drummer at the time, Antonio Sanch├ęz, who joined them for what was intended to be a one-shot concert a few years earlier at the Montreal Jazz Festival. The music includes both old and new material, with the former sounding fresh rather than a mere autopilot run-through that some reunion bands might offer, while the recent works prove to be just as enticing. The quartet's interpretations of Swallow's compositions include an intricate, fast-paced take of "Falling Grace" along with a lively "Hullo, Bolinas" (both of which Burton has played many times over his long career). Duke Ellington's "Fleurette Africaine (Little African Flower)" has been a part of Burton's repertoire since the mid-'80s, and though the vibraphonist's approach is brighter and played at a faster tempo than the composer's brooding recording, this updated look builds upon Ellington's magical gift for melody with brilliant improvising all around. Burton contributed the funky blues "Walter L," which finds the musicians having a lot of fun with its catchy theme. Metheny's "Question and Answer" also appeared on an earlier recording with Burton and Chick Corea, but the omission of piano gives this version a simmering, more intricate air. This reunion will hopefully lead to future recorded reunions by these four gifted musicians.

This much-anticipated quartet gathering, the New Quartet Live Album with Burton, Metheny, Swallow and Sanchez, is simply great! I love the flow of songs and the 4 sound wonderful together and sport-on. Pat has 3 songs; Gary has 1 song, as does Chick Corea - Neville Potter, Keith Jarrett and Duke Ellington. Carla Bley has 2 songs, as does Steve Swallow. Altogether there are 11 songs and IMO, Missouri Uncompromised is Super as is Little African Flower. The Album ends with Question and Answer and @ 13:02 in Length it is really performed smoking Hot! Pat plays his guitar synth on Q & A and I think it caps off the album really well and in my view, he sensitively plays his guitar synth to the scale of Yoshi's. The sound quality is excellent and the album was recorded in June of 2007 at Yoshi's in Oakland, CA. This new and hot Quartet Live album is highly recommended!

The album features three original members and jazz legends Gary Burton, Pat Metheny and Steve Swallow along with another new member, and perhaps one of the most prominent jazz drummers of his generation, Antonio Sanchez. The 11-song album was recorded live at Yoshi’s Jazz Club in Oakland, CA. Quartet Live! starts off with Chick Corea’s “Sea Journey,” one of many songs Corea wrote for the Burton group, and features songs written by Carla Bley (“Olhos de Gato” and “Syndrome”) and Keith Jarrett (“Coral”). Metheny’s composing talents are also represented here by tunes composed during his Burton Quartet years: the fast and furious “Missouri Uncompromised,” the haunting “B and G,” and “Question and Answer,” one of Pat’s most well-known pieces. The story begins in 1967 when bassist Steve Swallow joined with vibraphonist Gary Burton to form the original Gary Burton Quartet. In the early 1970s, then 19-year old guitarist Pat Metheny joined Burton’s band and one of the most celebrated careers in music began. A decade ago Metheny discovered drummer Antonio Sanchez, inviting him to join The Pat Metheny Group, and the two have been playing together ever since. The result is four legendary musicians, improvisers and composers all, each at the top of his game, bringing modern jazz history to life on Quartet Live!

This group sounds as if it's on even more of a roll on this California live recording than it was at a thrilled Barbican last summer. A guitar/vibes dialogue might sound like a recipe for lots of notes and chamber-jazz, but this band is as hard-grooving as Gary Burton's original 1970s quartet - which also featured this group's bass guitarist, Steve Swallow, and a 19-year-old Metheny. Burton, one of the most creative figures in the first wave of jazz-rock, achieved a near-perfect balance of striking tunes, jazz fluency and country-rock conviviality - and Metheny's singing sound and blues/rock licks were the ideal foil. This group recaptures all that, with help from Metheny's fiery young drummer Antonio Sanchez. There isn't a dud track, with the skimming groove of the opening Sea Journey bearing beautifully phrased and flowing solos from Burton, Metheny and Swallow, and the Latin ballad Olhos de Gato and the smoky Coral drawing gentle ruminations from vibes and guitar that are too fresh for smooth jazz. There's a storming blues on Walter L, a staccato postbopper over scalding drumming and Swallow's gleeful walk on Missouri Uncompromised, a glistening Burton dance over the lightest brushes groove on Hullo, Bolinas, and Carla Bley's chiming Syndrome is a bonus.

The combination of musicians sets this up to be a winner. The set list gives good distribution of compositions by Gary, Pat and Steve, with Antonio riding on his incredible skills. I agree with the growing swell of accolades that characterizes him as among the best (if not THE best) drummers currently on the jazz scene.

Track listing:

01 Sea Journey 9:00
02 Olhos De Gato 6:36
03 Falling Grace 7:18
04 Coral 6:23
05 Walter L 5:30
06 B And G (Midwestern Night's Dream) 6:53
07 Missouri Uncompromised 7:34
08 Fleurette Africaine (Little African Flower) 7:34
09 Hullo, Bolinas 4:48
10 Syndrome 4:42
11 Question And Answer 13:02


Vibraphone – Gary Burton
Guitar – Pat Metheny
Electric Bass – Steve Swallow
Drums – Antonio Sanchez