Gary Burton brought together in one 80-minute set all of the elements of his last three Concord discs: He submitted a lesson in the history of the vibraphone (“For Hamp, Red, Bags and Cal”); exposed the compositional acumen of his new 16-year-old charge, guitarist Julian Lage (“Generations”); dipped into the Astor Piazzolla songbook (“Libertango”); and shared a telepathic conversation with his accompanist, pianist Makoto Ozone (“Virtuosi”).
Impressively, this overview was limited to his work in the 21st century. Burton, with his four-mallet technique and an ability to draft budding youngsters into his bands over the last 40 years (Pat Metheny, Ozone, Eber-hard Weber, Tiger Okoshi), continues to dazzle, even in this seemingly informal duo setting.
Without the grounding of a bass or a secondary solo instrument, the music felt airy and uplifting, especially on Lage’s cinematic composition “Gorgeous,” an apt descriptor.
Burton adopted the styles of Milt Jackson, Cal Tjader, Red Norvo and Lionel Hampton to pay homage to each of the vibe forefathers by dipping into blues, ragtime and bebop, before pushing jazz toward the classical realm with works by Alessandro Scarlatti, Ravel and Gershwin.
Ozone’s playing was never short of lovely and compelling; if a composition has even a hint of romanticism, he’s bound to find it.