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Gary Burton Quartet: Duster

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Of all the seminal jazz records of the 1960s, Duster was and remains the most ignored. Upon its release, the album’s innovative integration of rock and jazz never gained much traction outside a circle of well-placed supporters. The subsequent, decades-long neglect of this still luminous program can be attributed to several factors, not the least of which are the subsequent activities of its principals, vibist Gary Burton and guitarist Larry Coryell. Though Burton continued to produce substantial albums for ECM into the mid-’70s, he faded into teaching, and now makes amiable, unadventurous albums; it has taken Coryell most of the intervening years to regain most of his stature after his ’70s fusion excesses. Yet, for a couple of years, Burton and Coryell crystallized the tenor of the times in four excellent dates for RCA, (including the epochal recording of Carla Bley’s A Genuine Tong Funeral), of which ’67’s Duster was the first.

Original liner essayist Mike Zwerin asserts that Duster is the result of a contemporary “collision” of jazz, rock and “a lot of other things.” Yet, in retrospect, the program seems geared more towards representing a coalition of forces rather than a collision of forces.

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