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Gary Burton: Like Minds

For an all-star session with such big names as Burton, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Roy Haynes, and Dave Holland, Like Minds throws off surprisingly few sparks. Each is a virtuoso, to be sure. Metheny comes off like a young Johnny Smith throughout this cooperative superband session, particularly on his brisk burner “Elucidation,” and Corea sounds right at home swinging alongside the great Roy Haynes, fresh off their Bud Powell tribute tour. Holland is Holland-an ever-reliable, solidly swinging presence with the most impeccable time and intonation of any bassist in jazz (with the possible exception of George Mraz). And Burton is still a four-mallet phenomenon after all these years: an ultra-virtuoso with a highly sophisticated harmonic sense.

And yet, there’s something missing here. The aesthetic is a bit tidy. There’s no sense of blood in the music. How can there be any going out on a limb when everything is so…perfect? Only Roy Haynes, with his unpredictable ways of cutting up the beat and adding unexpected accents, offers any real surprises here. The rest is flawless, and that’s my only reservation here.

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