Jazz musician and Percussive Arts Society Hall of Famer Gary Burton has spent more than three decades playing the vibraharp and is credited with both revolutionizing the instrument's sound and broadening the jazz audience as a whole. While he was still in his teens, the budding musical innovator adopted the use of additional mallets — traditional vibraharps make use of only two — to maximize the xylophone-like instrument's lush vibrato and resonance. The two-time Grammy Award winner then pioneered the fusion movement in the middle 1960s when he integrated pop devices, folk, country, and rock rhythms with jazz. In 1965 he and his group donned the casual dress of the Beatles' generation in an effort to capture fans from a younger generation. In an interview with Bill Milkowski in Down Beat, Burton commented on the universality of jazz and its inherent power to cross lines of age, race, and gender, saying that "the attraction of jazz … is this improbable combination of the spontaneous and emotional with something that is also intellectually challenging and stimulating."
Gary Burton was born on January 23rd, 1943 in Anderson, Indiana, a small town in the Indianapolis metropolitan area. Burton was self-taught on both the vibraphone and marimba and he began using four mallets when he was eight years old. Burton has listed Bill Evans as a major influence on his playing as well as guitarist Jim Hall, who he cites as a strong influence in his comping style. Burton moved to Nashville, Tennessee when he was seventeen years old and it was here that his career took off.
He recorded with country guitarists Hank Garland for the highly influential album Jazz Winds in 1961 and he also recorded with Chet Atkins for the 1960 album After the Riot at Newport. The Newport album was recorded on the back of mansion porch that RCA Records had rented during the festival. Unfortunately, the band's performance earlier that day had been cancelled due to crowd riots. In particular, Jazz Winds from a New Direction had a profound impact on musicians including Pat Metheny and George Benson, both of who have cited the album as being a key recording for starting their interest in playing jazz guitar.
Also during this time, Burton attended the Berklee School of Music but he only stayed for one year, from the fall of 1960 to the spring of 1961. While in Boston, Burton studied with trumpeter Herb Pomeroy as well as conductor/arranger Michael Gibbs. Burton's career by this time was in full swing; he released his debut solo album New Vibe Man in Town on RCA Records in 1961 and followed this up with 1962's Who is Gary Burton?
Chick Corea & Gary Burton - Jazzwoche Burghausen 2011
- Armando's Rumba
Chick Corea - piano
Gary Burton - vibraphone
42. Internationale Jazzwoche Burghausen, Germany, 2011