Gary Burton has long divided his interests and efforts between the pursuit of a performing career and his commitment as a music professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He is a self-taught vibraphonist - heavily inspired by the late Lionel Hampton - who has performed not only jazz, but rock and country as well. In his 40-plus-year career, he's worked as a soloist with his own quartet, and been a part of many historic duets, including Chick Corea and Larry Coryell. In the late 1960s, he was one of the early pioneers of the jazz-rock fusion movement, and over the years, he has participated in several successful tributes to Benny Goodman and Lionel Hampton.
This show was recorded at New York's Bottom Line in 1978. Burton was never one to hog the spotlight, and he gives his other three bandmates extensive opportunities to solo. The group opens with the upbeat "Knees Up" before tackling Carla Bley's dreamy "Vox Humana." Bassist Swallow contributes "Radio," and at over seven minutes, the song allows ample time for Burton on vibes and Okoshiu on trumpet to solo freely.
"Dreams So Real," which clocks in at just under fifteen minutes, starts slow and dreamlike, but halfway through, Burton and company begin accelerating at a frantic pace. The tune ends with drummer Bob Moses giving one of the hottest jazz drum solos recorded in recent times. "The Whopper" is another avant garde tune at the beginning and end with a structured, funky, improvisational middle section. Burton returns for two encores: the Miles Davis influenced "Yellow Fields" and "Nacada," which is another lengthy track with a drum solo. Moses offers a solo that is different than his earlier one and the drums remain strangely interesting, despite the fact that a large portion of the entire show is made up of solos.
Burton never quite reached the jazz superstar that Pat Methany, Herbie Hancock or Chick Corea ascended to, but he is one our national musical treasures nonetheless, as this recording more than proves.