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Good Vibes: Gary Burton’s First Albums Collected On “Conception”

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Gary Burton - ConceptionSince his introduction in 1961 on RCA Victor as The New Vibe Man in Town, vibraphonist Gary Burton has carved out one of the most prolific careers in jazz. Today, seven-time Grammy recipient Burton is recognized as one of the pioneers of jazz fusion as well as an innovative stylist (with his four-mallet technique rather than the more typical two-mallet) and an influential educator. Following his 1961 debut, Burton made some fascinating, embryonic records – like The Groovy Sound of Music, a set dedicated to the Rodgers and Hammerstein tunes from the Broadway musical – and Tennessee Firebird, with a couple of Bob Dylan covers. But he hit his (first) stride in 1967, launching a new quartet to explore fresh avenues in jazz. He was joined by bassist Steve Swallow, drummer Roy Haynes (shortly replaced by Bobby Moses) and perhaps his most key collaborator, guitarist Larry Coryell. Coryell’s rock guitar proved the perfect foil for Burton’s vibes on early fusion albums like 1967’s Duster (with Haynes), Lofty Fake Anagram (with Moses) and 1968’s In Concert, which received its first-ever CD release outside of Japan in 2012 from Cherry Red’s FiveFour imprint. Now, another Cherry Red label, él, has a 2-CD slipcased set dedicated to the early works of Burton containing four full albums and other selections.

Gary Burton: Conception brings together Burton’s first two albums as a leader, The New Vibe Man in Town and 1962’s Who is Gary Burton? in a package with two full albums on which he served as a sideman: Hank Garland and the All-Stars’ Jazz Winds from a New Direction and The Nashville All-Stars’ After the Riot at Newport (both 1960). Conception also includes five songs from Garland’s Subtle Swing and one single track, pianist Floyd Cramer’s “Last Date” featuring Burton in the band.

It may be surprising to some that a jazz eminence like Burton came up through the ranks of Chet Atkins’ Nashville Sound. Jazz Winds from a New Direction was recorded in August 1960, teaming guitar great Garland (who recorded with Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, Roy Orbison and so many others) with Joe Benjamin on bass, The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s Joe Morello on drums and young Gary Burton on vibes. Garland knew Burton from one month earlier, when the remaining performances at the Newport Folk Festival on the Fourth of July, 1960, were cancelled as a result of unruly audience behavior. The story has it that RCA rounded up the available musicians and ushered them into a rented mansion to jam on the album that became After the Riot at Newport, credited to The Nashville All-Stars. Burton was in good company: with Boots Randolph (alto saxophone), Floyd Cramer (piano), Garland and Chet Atkins (guitars), Brenton Banks (violin), Bob Moore (bass) and Buddy Harman (drums). Newport Jazz Festival founder George Wein penned the liner notes for the album, writing, in part: “To me, the highlights of the album are the wonderful violin of Brenton Banks, the swinging guitar of Hank Garland, and the brilliant work of a 17-year old vibraphonist from Princeton, Indiana, Gary Burton, whom you will be sure to hear a lot in the future.”

Needless to say, Wein’s prediction about Burton was right. Just six days after the August 23, 1960 recording of Jazz Winds, Garland called Burton back to join Bob Moore (bass), Bill Pursell (piano) and Doug Kirkham (drums) to record the album that became Subtle Swing – a portion of which is included on Conceptions. (It originally was intended as a demonstration record for SESAC, the music publishers’ service organization.) It wasn’t long before Chet Atkins, the legendary Nashville guitarist, producer and RCA’s Nashville overseer, signed Burton to his first recording contract.

We have more after the jump, including the complete track listing and order links!

For his debut as a leader, Burton was joined by Gene Cherico on bass and Joe Morello on drums as they ran through standards including “Over the Rainbow,” “You Stepped Out of a Dream,” and “Like Someone in Love” plus Clifford Brown’s “Joy Spring,” Marian McPartland’s “So Many Things,” and more. Who is Gary Burton? featured Clark Terry on trumpet, Bob Brookmeyer on valve trombone, Phil Woods on alto saxophone, Tommy Flanagan on piano, John Neves on string bass, and Morello and Chris Swansen on drums. This group tackled Rodgers and Hart’s “My Funny Valentine” as well as a more recent showtune, Charles Strouse and Lee Adams’ “Have You Seen Her” from their musical All-American, and tunes by Swansen, George Shearing, Terry Gibbs and others.

Conception features these albums out of order, with the first disc dedicated to Burton’s sophomore effort as a leader, Who is Gary Burton?, followed by Jazz Winds and the selections from Subtle Swing. The second disc turns the clock back for After the Riot at Newport, New Vibe Man in Town and Floyd Cramer’s No. 2 Pop hit “Last Date.” This set comes with a booklet containing a brief introductory essay and the original liner notes from the various LPs. The discs are housed in paper sleeves reprinting the covers of the four complete albums.

Gary Burton’s Conception, made possible as a result of current U.K. public domain laws, is available now from él and makes a welcome overview of the artist’s earliest years. It’s available now at the links below!

Gary Burton, Conception (él ACMEMD277CD, 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

CD 1: Who is Gary Burton? / Jazz Winds from a New Direction / Selections from ‘Subtle Swing’

  1. Storm
  2. I’ve Just Seen Her
  3. Fly Time Fly (Sigh)
  4. Conception
  5. Got Away Blues
  6. My Funny Valentine
  7. One Note
  8. All the Things You Are
  9. Three-Four, The Blues
  10. Move
  11. Always
  12. Riot-Chous
  13. Relaxin’
  14. It’s Love, Of Course
  15. Not for Me
  16. Pop Goes the Weasel
  17. Unless You’re in Love
  18. Rainy Afternoon

CD 2: New Vibe Man in Town / After the Riot at Newport and more

  1. Joy Spring
  2. Over the Rainbow
  3. Like Someone in Love
  4. Minor Blues
  5. Our Waltz
  6. So Many Things
  7. Sir John
  8. You Stepped Out of a Dream
  9. Relaxin’
  10. Nashville to Newport
  11. Opus de Funk
  12. ‘S Wonderful
  13. ‘Round Midnight
  14. Frankie and Johnny
  15. Riot-Chous
  16. Last Date – Floyd Cramer

CD 1, Tracks 1-7 from Who is Gary Burton, RCA Victor LSP 2665, 1963
CD 1, Tracks 8-13 from Jazz Winds from a New Direction, Columbia 1572, 1961
CD 1, Tracks 14-18 from Subtle Swing, Columbia LP 2913, 1962
CD 2, Tracks 1-8 from New Vibe Man in Town, RCA Victor LSP 2420, 1962
CD 2, Tracks 9-15 from After the Riot at Newport, RCA Victor LSP 2302, 1960
CD 2, Track 16 from RCA Victor single 47-7775, 1960

Written by Joe Marchese

October 3, 2014 at 10:19

Posted in Gary Burton, News, Reissues

4 Responses

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  1. I’m curious about this – how does the U.K. public domain law apply here?? I thought everything on the 2-CD set is now owned by the same company – in this case, Sony.

    Bill Janowski

    October 3, 2014 at 13:22

    • To make a very long story short, current European public domain law allows for pre-1962 recordings to be reissued without any involvement of, or compensation to, the original copyright holders (in this case, Sony). Numerous labels, including él, Sepia, Croydon Municipal and many others, frequently make pre-1962 music available as a result of this law. These albums are out of copyright in the U.K., making this release possible. Hope this helps.

      Joe Marchese

      October 3, 2014 at 13:29

  2. I looked up your previous answers on PD stuff (Feb 2014), but with this release, I know some of them have been issued on CD before. So for this PD release, are they allowed to use later CD issues (which would still be copyrighted, I guess??) AND LP’s/45’s to master from, or was this set done with Vinyl only??

    Bill Janowski

    October 3, 2014 at 16:01

    • Technically speaking, European PD labels should not be using CD-era masters to source their releases. However, it happens quite often, a problem that the Elvis Presley estate has had to deal with as a result of numerous CDs of out-of-copyright material sourced from Follow That Dream releases. I have no information as to the source of this Gary Burton CD. However, the fine folks at él are among the most reputable of labels releasing PD material.

      Joe Marchese

      October 3, 2014 at 17:24


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