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Gary Burton
Gary Burton is giving a huge contribution to the site. You should find everything about him in those sections: awesome stories, great photos, thoughts and discussions, lessons and tributes from us fans. Enjoy! :o)


tifoo Fri, 03/27/2009 - 06:06

Hello Gary,
I just wanted to show you a link about Makoto Ozone playing Gerschwin's concerto.
(I think it's him)

You haven't talked about him yet... but I truly love your face-to face album (most specially the tango track).
I remember playing this concerto (I was in the Orchestra)with Monthy Alexander as a soloist and Bobby McFerrin as conductor : it was fun though Monthy got lost during his solo cadence.
I really dig Makoto personnal/gerschwin in out cadence : you can on one hand hear makoto's touch, ideas and groove and on the other the gerschwin written music...very good balance between the two.

I'm sure it is very hard to do ( I remember also the H.Hancock Ravel piano's concerto in G on his gerschwin's album...that was to me a good try but too far from ravel's writing)



DrBobM55 Sun, 03/29/2009 - 13:52

I'm Bob Wesner and you may not remember me as it's been a few years. I sent you several of your very early recordings and some magazine articles. I recall you were putting together an archive of your career. I hope the project has been successful. I am still located in Iowa City. My medical practice keeps me busy, but I find some time to play.
You may be aware that Iowa City suffered a severe flood last summer. The entire arts campus went underwater. The music building was so badly damaged that the university may be faced with having to build a new facility. At the the moment the school of music is scattered throughout Iowa City and studio arts is in an old Menard's. The percussion department was fortunate in that most of the equipment was removed before the water entered the building.
I recently found this site and was happy to see your postings. I hope you are well and enjoying your home in Florida. Sincerely, Bob Wesner

arturo serra Wed, 04/29/2009 - 08:20

hi gary first at all, thanks for share with all vibe players some histories around your music life.
I always interested in to know some aspects of you recording session during you entire career
especially from ecm years to until todays
I´m curios about small details as how was the ECM recording sessions, do you recorded in the same large hall( room ) all musicians ? separate in isolated panels ? how was you last records of grp years do you record in a diferents rooms every musician? or your last albums on concord ( with the generations band) and of course your records a duo? what are your preferences ?what are your taste ?what do you feel better or confortable? all people separate in rooms or all in the same room?
ECM records to me are was a reference sound because the albums sound great!! ( ,real life etc..)or your prefer the way of the actual studios?
it will be very nice to see any of your recording albums recorded in a video ( a making off)!!!!!
sorry if there is many questions , and sorry for my english
arturo serra

Gary Burton Thu, 04/30/2009 - 11:48

In reply to by arturo serra

Hi Arturo,

With the ECM records, they were mostly done in Germany at Ton Studio Bauer, with an excellent engineer, Martin Wieland. The challenge with the vibraphone is that overhead mics tend to pick up a lot of other sound floating around in the room. So, it is always necessary to get the vibes far away from other instruments, or in a separate enclosure. Sometimes that is just an enclosure, sometimes it is a separate room, depending on the studio. I do want as much eye contact as possible, of course, so it has to be a situation where I can see through glass to the other musicians. The GRP records were mostly done at Avatar in New York, which has excellent mini-rooms surrounding the center of the studio. On some of those records, I put the vibes out in the middle of the studio and everyone else in the enclosures! That gave the vibes a nice acoustic sound because of the high ceiling. With the Concord records, I made the two Generations records at Fantasy studios in Berkeley, CA. Again a nice big, high-ceiling room with lots of natural acoustics. The vibes were in a separate room with a nice big window for me to see all the other players. I can get a decent sound with all of us in the room together, but it would mean much limitation when it comes to editing and fixing things. The new live record with Pat Metheny was such a situation. Our only choices in editing were mostly deciding which takes to use, and occasionally cutting from one spot in a track to another spot. But no individual editing of separate tracks because there was leakage in all the mics, of course, being a live recording. I mostly prefer recording in a studio where there is more control of the end result, but the handful of live recordings I have made have turned out al right, too.

tedwolff Sat, 06/27/2009 - 18:37

Hi Gary, I have a wonderful 20 page document that you wrote at least 35 years ago. I don't remember how I obtained it, and I don't know if it was ever published. Topics include Concepts of Basic Technique, Concepts of Teaching Improvisation, and Concepts of Performance. There are many excellent ideas and observations, including a kind of introduction to Ideo-Kenetics.

I think putting some of this material up for us would be super, especially your thoughts on performance. Let me know if you think this is a good idea. I'd be happy to type out whatever material you think would be appropriate.

Cerulean Blue: new CD by Ted Wolff. Go to

Gary Burton Sun, 06/28/2009 - 14:30

In reply to by tedwolff

Hi Ted,

Wow, 35 years ago. I wonder what I had to say then about teaching and playing. I also wonder what the circumstances were that led me to write 20 pages on the subject. Maybe you could send it to me and let me see if it still rings true now. Or you could post it and I can write in and argue with myself over what I used to think and what I think now. LOL


mevlevia Mon, 07/06/2009 - 12:50

Hi Gary,
long time no see…
It’s great to see you here. I discovered recently this website and i liked very much your corner. Some stories and anecdotes are amazing.
I was impressed by the fact that Stan Getz didn’t read music. I listened a lot to Stan especially when I was a child and in my teens because my father was a great fan of him and I grew up with his wonderful sense of melody, of improvisation and the beauty of his sound. I was influenced also by his bossa nova recordings. All this had an important part in shaping my improvisational skills.
However after hearing him to play some more complex tunes or orchestral recordings such as the Michel Legrand one “Communications ‘72” I always thought he was a formidable music reader.
And, so the story shocked me as well as the one of the MJQ. I knew of Milt, but it was a little surprising that John Lewis wasn’t so accustomed with the reading because he wrote all that arrangements and compositions for the quartet which were a lot structured and with so much “written-notes” to play.
As for the “Alone, At Last” comments and observations that the other vibists done: I, too, noticed that many guys are so haunted by your rendition of Chega De Saudade. I think there is a transcription somewhere and they (at least the classical-trained ones) want to study and play it as it was “a classical piece”. Maybe it’s hard for they to think of it as a spontaneous version of the moment. A friend of mine who plays drums but is also graduated in percussion amazed when I made him hear Chega on vibraphone playing it without any chart and with a spontaneous improvisation.
I suggest however that all of your solo-playing fans listen to your versione of “I’m Your Pal/Hullo Bolinas” form the Zurich Concert album. Unfortunately it’s only available on the old LP version.
Manfred Eicher surely was wrong deciding to not include the solo performance in the CD re-issue. Chick’s improvisation on that recording is something astonishing, one of his better performances.
At this point a question who requires good memory: was the piano a Steinway or a Bosendorfer ?
It’s an incredible instrument with an unbelievable sound ! Thanks alssoto Martin Wieland for a great engineering ! Vibes also are spectacularly recorded. What kind of place is the “Limmathaus” ?
I stop for now and I’ll post more these days.
Cesare Carbonini

Gary Burton Tue, 07/07/2009 - 08:17

In reply to by tonymiceli

Hi Tony, I know this has confused some people since we know that Stan started his career playing in the bands of Woody Herman, Stan Kenton and Benny Goodman. All I can attest to is that I watched him during the three years I played with him, when he was in his early 40's. He could read single line notes, as would be typical in a sax part of a band arrangement, with moderate ability at best. He probably was better at it when he was twenty years old. But, something I discovered along the way is that reading band parts is not as hard as it first appears. There is a similarity to the lines from chart to chart, there is the support of other players in the section playing the same rhythms if not the same exact notes. I was surprised, for instance, on an early record date when I invited Clark Terry to be on the session and he struggled to read the parts we had written for him. This was a guy from Ellington's band who was working the Tonight Show band at the time! But, our parts were unconventional in flavor and he struggled with the rhythms and the intervals because they were not in a familiar style for him. My late and beloved friend from my school days, Steve Marcus, played tenor sax with Kenton, Woody, and ultimately for many years with the Buddy Rich band. And, Steve barely could read at all. He would learn his parts mostly by ear as the band played the charts repeatedly on the gigs. He said a lot of the time he just pretended to play with the horn in his mouth, but making no sound. He said the only person who seemed to notice was Gabe Balthazar, the lead alto player who sat next to him on Kenton's band.

More to the point with Getz, he didn't know how to read chord symbols, something that is a necessity for someone reading music for improvisational purposes. Stan only knew how to make up the basic triads for chord symbols. He didn't know things like ninths, flat ninths, nor did he know why or how chords resolved one to another. He did his improv by ear. Teaching him a new song, which was my job, was a matter of going over and over it till he had absorbed it and memorized it. Ironically, it had been the same for me when I found myself teaching George Shearing new songs, although Shearing could actually read Braille music. (Unfortunately I couldn't write in Braille, so I taught him new songs by rote).

Many players are highly talented at compensating for a lack of reading skill, the aforementioned players included. I loved Stan's playing, and Clark's and Steve's. They found their own ways of playing to their strengths and working around their limitations. In some ways, we all do that. Also, Stan and Clark came of age at a time when a great many jazz musicians had uneven skill sets having learned music on their own in most cases. Only since the 1960's has it become a given that a first rate musician needs to read well, know harmony, know a variety of styles, stay sober and drug free, etc., etc.

tpvibes Tue, 07/07/2009 - 11:06

In reply to by Gary Burton

Hi Gary,

That's a nice comment on what's expected of good musicians nowadays :-). I was an active musician in the '70s, left for a career elsewhere and returned a few years ago. Most of the people I play with now are in the same situation. We were discussing a few days ago how different and nice it is to play with people with professional sensibilities -- everyone shows up on time for gigs, doesn't get smashed in the course of the night, is polite to the people who work in the venues, doesn't get annoyed with the leader for expecting these things, etc.

We attributed these changes to maturity and the lessons of non-music careers, but maybe the music business has changed too?

Tom P.

tonymiceli Fri, 07/17/2009 - 09:23

In reply to by Gary Burton

man we here so many stories and believe them. i heard and spread the rumor that stan could read anything and the first time he read it he memorized it. and that's not true. wow, gossip, huh? i can't believe it. well i can and i know not to believe all this stuff good and bad but i do fall prey all the time.

incredibly interesting to me.

Tony Miceli
s k y p e: tjazzvibe
i c h a t: tonymiceli

Gary Burton Fri, 07/17/2009 - 11:01

In reply to by mevlevia

Hello Cesare, it's been a long time. Hope you are doing well. Thanks for the nice comments in your posting. Some replies from me:

I recall that Manfred left the solo pieces out of the CD release of the Zurich Concert because of time contraints. Couldn't get all the tracks onto the CD. And, the piano was a Steinway. The scene of that concert was pretty funny.

Chick and I were doing a crazy tour, 21 concerts in a row without a day off. (now we only play every other day when we tour...getting old!). So by the time we got to Zurich, we both had serious colds. If you listen closely, during a few quiet spots you can hear Chick snuffling into the piano mikes. He had run out of tissues and finally took a roll of toilet paper from the bathroom and put it on the piano to use during the concert when he needed to blow his nose. It was a jazz festival in a medium size hall and it was packed with people. Lee Konitz was there that night, and being a friend of me and Chick, he wanted to hear the concert. But there was no where for him to sit. Finally, just as we started, he found a chair and moved it onto the stage and sat just behind Chick on the stage for the whole concert. We weren't planning on recording, as a matter of fact. Manfred was there with the recording equipment and Martin Wieland, the engineer from Stuttgart, to record Ralph Towner who played earlier that day. But, we figured, what the heck, run the tape and maybe it'll be something we'll like. The prospects weren't good because not only were we both sick, but we didn't start to play till around midnight and we were exhausted. I didn't even think much about the recording till Manfred sent me a copy a few months later. I was astounded that it was one of our best performances, and I still think it may be our best duet recording. Most people pick the first Crystal Silence as the best, but I have always preferred the Zurich Concert.

Two of my favorite recordings were made late at night, while I was exhausted and didn't expect to play very well. The other one is New Tango with Astor Piazzolla, recorded after midnight at the Montreux Festival. You never know when inspiration will arrive.

mevlevia Mon, 07/20/2009 - 16:20

In reply to by Gary Burton

Another amazing story.
The Zurich recording was the obsession of my teens. I listened to it hundreds of times and i quick learned all the tunes which i still remember very well and i soon noticed Chick's snufflings and i always thought he was cold. But i didn't surely figure that both you and Chick was very exhausted and "serious" cold because the performance is astonishing.
I thanks Manfred Eicher for having the idea of recording that night but not for sacrifying the solo performance on CD :-)

arturo serra Mon, 08/10/2009 - 08:01

hi gary I have a curiosity . speaking about the nylon yarn in your last mensage aboutto wrapping mallets ,do you keep in your home this wonderful royal blue nylon yarn cones that you use over this years (that if I´m not wrong ) you pick up from the manufacturating yarn company that supply musser mallets before they failed( the company yarn)and you pick up the rest of the yarn to you?

sammyasher Mon, 11/02/2009 - 15:31

Hey Gary,

I'm a freshman at Wesleyan University this year. My primary/first instrument is piano, but about 1 1/2 months ago I got really into the vibes, and have been really loving it. I aim to pursue it to the full extent of my abilities. I am currently studying with Jay Hoggard. I have a history of some repetitive stress injuries from playing piano/banjo/bass too much and too often and probably not in the most efficient way. I would like to refine my technique on vibes as much as possible to be able to avoid that type of thing as best I can. Jay is showing me great stuff, and I was just wondering what words of wisdom (vague or specific) you can give regarding mallet technique (four mallet, rolls, etc...), or if there are any videos you can refer me to. I am currently working to get four mallet technique as comfortable and fluid as possible. I dont have the money to sign up for this website for 20 dollars a month, so I can't view those things on here.

Out of curiosity, have you ever dealt with playing-related stresses like that? How did you deal with them?


-Sam Friedman

mikkelib Mon, 03/29/2010 - 09:25

Hi Gary,
Some friends and I are very interested in your music. In fact we are so interested that we would like to try to play it ourselves, however it seems like all the arrangements and scores are kept secretly in a sealed box far away from any civilization. Is that a fact?
Can you (or anybody else)tell me where I can buy the scores for your music.
I'm specifically looking for your version of Gershwin's Concerto in F for piano & vibes and The same with Rachmaninoff's prelude VIII op.32 ...and even afro blues. There are so many great pieces and I'm a little frustrated about that they only exist on audio.
Looking forward to hearing from you
Thanks a lot

sandrop Mon, 10/29/2012 - 06:25

Dear Gary,

I like all of your records and have quite all at home.

But there ist one record, which I adore the most! It's the solo concert from 1971 in Montreux, alone at last.

Especially the song "The sunset bell"... I have never hear such a beautiful vibe performance! This is really from another planet Gary! It feels like a miracolous waterfall. Every time, when I hear this number, I can't believe my ears. Thank you for that great and inspiring performance! Hope to see and hear you in Switzerland in the next months or year.