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on 19 August 2017
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on 18 January 2012
Every now and then Gary turns out a mediocre CD - nothing to objectionable, just not particularly engaging. Common Ground is definitely NOT mediocre, this is one of his very best. It has energy and vibrancy on the more lively tracks, but is subtle and smooth on the ballads. The quartet works perfectly, the warm bass of Scott Colley serving as a perfect foil for Gary's sweet vibes and the crisp guitar of Julian Lage all driven by the inimitable and seemingly unstoppable Antonio Sanchez. This demands quiet quality time and equipment to deliver its best so don't expect to connect while being played on your ipod on the way to work on the train. Give Common Ground the respect it deserves and you'll play it repeatedly.
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on 31 January 2013
There's not much point in giving Gary Burton the status of a four-mallet pioneer when it comes to playing the vibraphone. Right from the beginning of his career back in the early 1960s he's been an original voice on his instrument, so it might be a matter merely of tracing his trajectory on record to get an idea of what he's all about.

This set is billed as being by the new GB quartet, presumably as a means for distinguishing it from the quartet he led decades back which had Larry Coryell on guitar. Unsurprisingly this one has an identity all its own. It's heard on "Was it so long ago?" to no small effect. Guitarist Julian Lage is developing into one of the most distinctive voices on the contemporary jazz scene (whatever the hell that means) as he shows in his solo on this one.

Opting to record "My Funny Valentine" is always risky considering how it's been done to death both vocally and instrumentally, but it's clear from Lage's intro that there's something different going on. Although right in keeping with the group's chamber jazz ethos this reading stretches the form in a manner not out of stride with the Modern Jazz Quartet, albeit with a different form of interplay going on.

The title track flirts -but thankfully no more than that- with the kind of cod sophistication associated with the incidental music sometimes found on `quality' American sitcoms, or at least it does for as long as it takes bass player Scott Colley and drummer Antonio Sanchez to establish mood, after which Burton takes flight on a solo which encapsulates his still singular approach to his instrument.

Sophisticated and urbane by turns, this is one of those sets which sounds so easy that the listener might wonder why they come across such nourishing music so rarely, particularly in that field of (take a deep breath and hold) contemporary jazz.
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on 12 July 2011
I admit to being a Gary Burton fan, and this is such a joy. Yes, and I also saw him perform numbers from this album recently at Ronnie Scott's in London. So, there is a bias. And he signed the cover.

I have had this a week now and have played it many times. Now there are a lot of jazz albums that I might only play occasionally and I would not be playing "Common Ground" if I did not find the album so beautiful. The tango,"Last Snow", is a favourite and I love Burton when he does a tango as it so smooth and just like a butterfly on a flower, just touching the notes just beautifully. One of the number I first liked of his that got me into his music was "Reactionary Tango" from his earlier album "Easy as Pie". "Late Night Sunrise" is a gorgeous start to the album, played by some amazing musicians. In fact I like just about every track, apart from "My Funny Valentine" which passes me by. And I have always found it difficult to understand why jazz musicians like this number as many, including Miles Davis, have covered it.
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on 11 November 2013
Superb playing from the professor but teamed up with a new band featuring a great young guitarist and Pat Metheny's drummer (with whom he Gary played in the "Gary Burton Quartet Revisited" line up). very melodic on most tracks with some which are a bit more "out there".
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on 14 January 2016
I have a large number of Gary Burton albums, and it is rapidly becoming a favourite along with Works and Times Like These. Wonderful easy listening, and unusually no tracks that I dislike. Highly recommended!
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on 26 August 2013
Fresh, innovative with beautiful melodies that speak to the heart, a truly masterful production by masters of their craft.
Thoroughly recommend
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on 22 December 2016
top class
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on 24 September 2012
At the risk of sounding overly cynical, I would describe the music here as healthily 'nice': it's mellow and undemanding, well delivered by very competent players (guitar especially) but relying as it does so heavily on pretty sounding refrains it just sort of leaves me in the same place as I start - not swept up or challenged or surprised or going 'Wow, where do these guys find this stuff?'; which is what I look for most often when I listen to jazz. I appreciate that this exacting quest needn't be the only purpose of music (setting a mood as this album does can be just as relevant) but for me it's THE MAIN ONE more often than not, and hence my luke warm response. But each to their own, eh? Perhaps I'll find more of what I was hoping for in Burton's recently released 'GBQ in concert'.
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