Gary Burton Quartet: Blue Comedy
Gary Burton (vibes)
In Concert (Bmg Int'l)
Composed by Mike Gibbs.
Recorded: live at Carnegie Hall, New York, February 23, 1968
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
Because of all the diverse music Gary Burton has recorded for almost 50 years, and since the vibraphone is not exactly an instrument that jumps up and down asking for attention, we often forget that even before he achieved his role as jazz vibe icon, Burton was an important member in the early days of the jazz fusion movement. Burton's quartet isn't exactly playing fusion on "Blue Comedy." But he is performing in the early days with three gifted players who would in one form or another join him in the soon-to-be burgeoning jazz-rock movement. Coryell and Moses were already playing in Coryell's post-fusion group Free Spirits at this time. Swallow was a permanent member of Burton's quartet and would go on to perform with Carla Bley, among many others. For that reason, "Blue Comedy" is significant because it displays Burton and his bandmates just before the jazz-rock movement really took hold.
"Blue Comedy" is a modern jazz blues number. Burton opens the proceedings with a forthright straight- ahead melodic mallet run. Swallow's walking bassline steadily propels the piece. Coryell plays some choppy comping chords before he takes a restrained tasteful solo off the basic blues scales. There is little of the speed demon Coryell can be. But it is tasteful playing in the context of the number. Burton swings during his foray, occasionally leaving enough space for Moses's effective accents. The obligatory bass solo follows. Swallow is able to maintain the forward motion of the piece without much difficulty before he is joined for the wrap-up. "Blue Comedy" is real good jazz worthy of the venue in which it was presented: Carnegie Hall. From a historical perspective it is further evidence that all good fusion players had a foundation in traditional modern jazz before they started playing fast and loud. The best of them feel right at home in either style, and all of these players have proved that over time.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky