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Gary Burton Quartet: In Performance at the World Cafe Live in Philadelphia

Karen Brundage-Johnson reports on recent performance by vibraphonist and his quartet

Gary Burton in performance at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia
Gary Burton in performance at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia
Julian Lage in performance with the Gary Burton Quartet at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia
Scott Colley in performance with the Gary Burton Quartet at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia

Jazz is back and abundant in Philadelphia for the 2011-2012 season! We hope to bring you and ongoing series of reviews from various venues centered in Philadelphia.

Tuesday night, September 27th at World Café Live before a very appreciative audience, the Gary Burton Quartet performed some familiar tunes, interlaced with selections from their latest recording Common Ground.

Burton assembled three stellar musicians to accompany his signature style. He has been performing with drummer Antonio Sanchez for several years, and it was through Sanchez that he came to know bassist Scott Colley. At just 23 years old, guitar prodigy Julian Lage is the youngest member of the band, but also has the longest relationship with Burton. Burton shared how he has known Lage since he was 12 years old. Burton beamed with pride as he as he joked with Lage about being all grown up.

The quartet opened the set to with a flawless rendition of Mongo Santamaría’s “Afro Blue,” featuring Burton’s rhythmic patterns, ebbing and flowing with the band. Sanchez played marvelous percussive lines mimicking the melody, giving way to the beat of the samba. Their second composition “Never the Same Way,” written by Colley in 7/4 time, was a challenging exercise even for these accomplished musicians.

The audience marveled at Burton’s four-mallet technique, four-part harmonies on the newly recorded title track “Common Ground”, composed by drummer Sanchez.

Under the guise of demonstrating his guitar mastery, Lage combined Latin, classical and jazz influences in his solo, which surprisingly ended with the band joining in a Latin version of “My Funny Valentine.”

The perfect ending to this 90-minute show was the encore. The quartet fell easily into a joyous version of vibes legend Milt Jackson’s signature tune “Bags’ Groove.”

Located in Philadelphia’s University City District, World Cafe Live features a diverse array of musical performances from around the world. The facility includes a restaurant and bar that is open for lunch and dinner, as well as a lively after-work happy hour with drink and food specials. The intimacy of the venue makes for an enjoyable evening. The food is delicious. You must try the warm gingerbread cake!

Originally Published