It must have been hard for a vibes player like Gary Burton in 1969. Bobby Hutcherson was doing moving into uncharted free jazz territory, and Roy Ayers was moving funky prime form--his mallets leaving vapor trails.
Where did that leave a player like Burton, as talented as his vibe contemporaries but making more conventional, but just as legitimate music.
I am really not sure, but I hope he sold a lot of records, because one listen to Throb finds he absolutely deserved to. He here has the fire power of bassist Steve Swallow and guitarist Jerry Hahn
Amazing raw material, raw material Burton uses however he pleases: a psychedelic opener that could be Pink Floyd with vibes, a violin experiment that could work on Frank Zappa's Hot Rats, blues and trippy ballads.
Basically, many experiments taking place in rock are visited on this album. These are jazz guys with jazz chops, but make a "jazz album" as of wonderfully unhinged experimentation the way most rock bands of the era were.
Burton here does not show the flash of Ayers of the harmonic adventure of Hutch, but that is only because that is not the path Throb rides. Burton is more interested with--I guess literally--chiming in and decorating his jazz rock psych stew at just the right point. You would probably not know listening he is the leader, and that is to his credit. His ensemble approach here shows incredible restraint and taste. The vibes being such an underused instrument, hearing them inserted in the sweet spot--our musical erogenous zone, our ears G-spot, has amazing impact.
But one thing. Admit it. That is an a--- on the cover!