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Quartet Live by Gary Burton - Pat Metheny - Steve Swallow - Antonio Sanchez

Two of my favorite, or should I say, desert island discs as a teenager, are Gary Burton’s 1976 ECM Records outing Dreams So Real and the 1977 release Passengers, both featuring a then young guitar wunderkind Pat Metheny. This 2009 effort rekindled for a live date at Yoshi’s Jazz Club in Oakland, captures and intensifies the music-magic witnessed previously. Original band bassist Steve Swallow appears here, along with present day Metheny band drummer, Antonio Sanchez.

The quartet looms as audience pleasers, indeed. And while the reemergence of bands, in general, often fail to capture the original spark, these folks never exhibit one hint of going on autopilot. The musicians breathe renewed life into the original material while forming a harmonious bond that is designed with interweaving melodies and cunning textural shifts.

Metheny’s breezy and somewhat patented Midwestern jazz-vibe is in full swing here. On pianist Keith Jarrett’s composition "Coral," the soloists engage a delicate, windswept ballad, teeming with multihued accents and contrasts via a web of softly iterated phrasings. Throughout, the quartet communicates vast synergy and turns in a spunky groove on Burton’s "Walter L," where Metheny generates some high-heat as he turns up the volume and distortion devices for his solo.

Other than the buoyant impetus that cloaks the proceedings, the musicians seemingly float on clouds when executing passages that drift into a melodically peaceful abyss, evident on Metheny’s "B and G (Midwestern Night’s Dream)." As they consummate the set with an extended version of another Metheny favorite "Question and Answer:" a jazz waltz, accelerated by the guitarist’s spiraling synclavier-based lines." Accolades aside, the album will most assuredly find its way on numerous best of lists for 2009. It’s a nouveau, passionate and powerful reformulation of the initial encounter. (Additional performances expected to be announced for 2009).

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Gary Burton - Pat Metheny - Steve Swallow - Antonio Sanchez
  • CD Title: Quartet Live
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: Concord Jazz
  • Musicians: Gary Burton (vibes), Pat Metheny (guitar), Steve Swallow (bass), Antonio Sanchez (drums)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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