Masterclasses in the vibraphone by Indiana-born and self-taught Burton who by 17 was already making his recording debut in Nashville with Hank Garland and Chet Atkins. Here he forges rich and original music of depth and complexity. 1966's Lofty Fake Anagram is composition rich, with taut and focussed unison playing spilling excitingly into runs of inspirational free improv. Burton's working of Carla Bley's 'Mother Of The Dead Man' is the bridge to 'A Genuine Tong Funeral', her jazz opera without words, recorded the following year with the line-up enjoying calibre support including Steve Lacy on soprano sax, Mike Mantler on trumpet, Jimmy Knepper on trombone, and Bley, conducting and on piano and organ. This ambitious work runs through the emotional paces experienced by the bereaved and tracks these musically with counterpointed calm and raging in a fusion of rock, classical and jazz spiked with psychedelia that builds to a roaring finale. Exemplary playing from all involved rarely distracts from the virtuoso Burton.
This welcome 2-CD reissue combines two albums by the vibraphonist Gary Burton originally made for the RCA label. Disc 1('Lofty Fake Anagram') was recorded in Hollywood during 1967 with Gar Burton(vibes); Larry Coryell(guitar); Steve Swallow(bass) & Bob Moses(drums). The nine tracks include eight Burton originals plus Duke Ellington's 'Fleurette Africaine' and feature impressive interplay between the four musicians. Disc 2('A Genuine Tong Funeral') was recorded in New York City during 1967-68 with the same quartet plus a stellar cast of Steve Lacy(soprano sax); Mike Mantler(trumpet); Gato Barbieri(tenor sax); Jimmy Knepper(trombone, bass trombone); Howard Johnson(tuba, baritone sax) & Carla Bley(piano, organ, conductor). Described by its composer, Carla Bley as a "Dark opera without words" the music is brooding, dramatic and sometimes turbulent. This excellent 2-CD set is a good representation of Gary Burton's playing in the 1960s and worth adding to any modern jazz collection.
Really bought this for the "Lofty Fake Anagram" album, which is excellent and reminds me of the time I saw the band in London. The "Tong Funeral" is more than a little overblown and pretentious, though it has it's good moments