We have an awful lot on our minds these days and much work to do, but with summer arriving for the northern end of the globe in just a few days, here’s hoping you can find some moments of fun and comfort during this favorite of seasons.
In the early 70’s, War put out a string of hits ranging from the socially restive – “The World is a Ghetto” and “Slippin’ into Darkness” – to the upbeat – “All Day Music” and “Summer”.
This recording of George Gershwin’s “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess is by Stan Getz from 1964’s Getz au Go Go. Performing on the track is then 21-year old vibraphonist Gary Burton, already showing his budding virtuoso talent (see this post from 2017 celebrating his retirement).
For songs that evoke the joy of summer, Sly and the Family Stone’s “Hot Fun in the Summertime” can’t be beat. Please try to boop boop ba boop boop when you want to this summer.
A few weeks ago jazz vibes player Gary Burton announced he was staging the final tour of his 50-plus-year career, and this past Friday he played his last show at the Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis. Not many artists have devoted themselves to this unusual instrument, and I wonder if anyone will ever again play it with Burton’s virtuosity.
According to a feature by NPR, the first use of the instrument in a jazz recording was by Lionel Hampton in 1930 on “Memories of You” by Louis Armstrong. Legend has it that shortly before this recording, jazz drummer Hampton had come across the instrument at NBC studios, where it was sometimes used to play the network’s distinctive 3-tone identifier chime.
Thirty years after Hampton introduced the instrument, a 17-year-old Burton began his career recording with guitar virtuoso Hank Garland. Here’s a track from that era with Burton right up front. The drummer on this track is Joe Morello, Dave Brubeck’s longtime collaborator.
Here are some pure shots of Burton from 1966 and 2010. Jaw dropping.
And here’s a duet with frequent collaborator Makoto Ozone from 1995. Burton chose Ozone to accompany him on his farewell tour. And if you haven’t had enough, here’s a link to a post from a couple of years ago featuring Burton and another frequent collaborator, Chick Corea.
We also like jazz at Music Now & Then – hope you do too.
In 2012 Chick Corea and Gary Burton released “Hot House”, marking 40 years of collaborations by the two jazz legends. Two tracks on the album won 2013 Grammys, “Mozart Goes Dancing” for Best Instrumental Composition and the title track for Best Improvised Jazz Solo.
The album also includes a cover of the Beatles classic “Eleanor Rigby”. The song has been covered (and more recently sampled) by countless artists since its release in 1966, but it’s been a special favorite of jazz artists through the years. In addition to Chick and Gary’s version, check out Stanley Jordan’s interpretation from his 1985 album “Magic Touch”. Jordan’s unusual two-hand tapping technique makes his performance sound like the work of more than one musician.
If you like your jazz more in the classic vein, listen to Wes Montgomery’s cover released in 1967. It’s from his album “A Day in the Life” – yes, another Beatles cover – that reached #1 on the Billboard Jazz Album chart that year.