Gary Burton: For Hamp, Red, Bags, and Cal

On this CD Burton pays tribute to vibes greats of the past, Lionel Hampton, Red Norvo, Milt Jackson and Cal Tjader, by playing tunes associated with them: “Bag’s Groove,” “Flying Home,” “Move” and “Afro Blue.” Because he’s a consistent and outstanding improviser, this album is a good one, but far from Burton’s best because of the conservatism of his playing in this context. Burton doesn’t usually try to imitate anyone, although his versions of Norvo’s “Hole in the Wall” and “Dance of the Octopus” are pretty much recreations. But obviously what his producers want here is a pleasant, accessible and not particularly challenging album, and that’s what this is.

Burton teams with a variety of rhythm section members: pianists Danilo Perez, Mulgrew Miller and Makoto Ozone, bassists John Patitucci and Christian McBride and drummers Horacio Hernandez and Lewis Nash. They all display competence, but this isn’t the place to hear them at their most creative.