Gary and Friends Burton: Departure

How nice to hear the practiced, fertile imaginations of such seasoned musicians at work on a set of familiar standards. Although vibraphonist Burton, pianist Fred Hersh, guitarist John Scofield, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Peter Erskine have applied their improvisatory skills in a number of idioms over the years, here they return to two of jazz’s primal sources-the American popular song and the standard jazz tune, “melodically and harmonically enriched” (apologies to John Lewis) by creative performers. For such a homecoming, it is not surprising that the influence of the George Shearing Quintet, with which Burton assumed his first full-time job in 1963, plays a role, especially in the unisons of “Tenderly” and “September Song.” The other tunes are “Poinciana,” “If I Were a Bell,” “For All We Know,” “Ecaroh,” Mel Torme’s “Born to Lose,” Chick Corea’s “Japanese Waltz,” Ellington’s “Depth” and the one outsider, the theme from the television show “Frazier.” Yes, the renditions are all resourceful, straight-ahead modern jazz. Scofield even modified his tone a bit to achieve a “more traditional guitar sound.”