Gary Burton – Who Is Gary Burton?

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Who Is Gary Burton?

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  • Burton’s sophomore release finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last   
  • This is vintage 1963 Living Stereo sound at its best – big, rich, relaxed, tonally correct and full of Tubey Magic – thanks Ray Hall!
  • In this stellar septet, Burton includes veteran musicians Clark Terry, Phil Woods, and Joe Morello, as well as Tommy Flanagan
  • 4 stars: “The playlist is anything but predictable… Although Burton is obviously a very confident soloist, he feels no need to hog the spotlight (a common mistake by young jazz musicians in later decades), as he is happy to step back and let the veterans take center stage.”

Most of the vinyl plays a bit better than the grades above. Few Living Stereo originals are going to be as quiet as this one

This original RCA Living Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with Gary, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of Who Is Gary Burton have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1963
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the above.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.

Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

What We’re Listening For on Who Is Gary Burton?

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks for the vibraphone, horns and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt — Ray Hall in the case — would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

The Players

Gary Burton — vibraphone
Clark Terry — trumpet
Bob Brookmeyer — valve trombone
Phil Woods — alto saxophone
Tommy Flanagan — piano
John Neves — bass
Joe Morello, Chris Swansen — drums

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Storm
I’ve Just Seen Her
Fly Time Fly (Sigh)
Conception

Side Two

Get Away Blues
My Funny Valentine
One Note

AMG 4 Star Review

By 1962, Gary Burton was known as a talented young vibraphonist, one who had already proven himself as a sideman and was breaking new ground as a master technician on his instrument, utilizing four mallets simultaneously with seemingly little effort.

Joining him on this sophomore outing is a septet that includes Clark Terry, Phil Woods, and Joe Morello. The playlist is anything but predictable, with two exciting originals by drummer and trombonium player Chris Swansen (a fellow Berklee alum), a well-crafted arrangement of George Shearing’s “Conception,” an elegant take of “My Funny Valentine” with a gorgeous flügelhorn solo by Terry, and an obscure but high-energy work by Jaki Byard, “One Note.”

Although Burton is obviously a very confident soloist, he feels no need to hog the spotlight (a common mistake by young jazz musicians in later decades), as he is happy to step back and let the veterans take center stage.