Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, Steve Swallow, Antonio Sanchez: Quartet Live


Gary Burton and Pat Metheny have reunited occasionally in interim since working together regularly in the 70’s, but Quartet Live is their first bonafide collaboration since that time. Their commitment, as well as that of their comrades, is wholly evident on Quartet Live.

"Sea Journey” illustrates how the virtues of the past Burton quartet remain within the lineup including bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Antonio Sanchez. The swift melodic turns of the leaders are no smoother than those of the rhythm section: every instrument sounds equally mellifluous and the transitions on this opener create a unity of purpose that belies the light touch of the four individuals’ musicianship.

"Olhos de Gato" functions in similar fashion but conjures up a wholly different atmosphere. In contrast to the bright quick glow preceding it, the Quartet savor the languor they create here as they all move as if in slow motion in synchrony. This isn’t the only track of the eleven that ends too quickly for its own good (and the listener’s) but is nonetheless noteworthy for how fully the musicians affect the desired mood in a comparatively abbreviated (6 min 356 sec) take. And before Burton, Metheny and Co. become predictable, the guitarist adopts a sharper guitar tone on "Walter L" and the vibist’s playing becomes proportionately sharper as well on this original of his.

Braveley and deliberately conceived by Burton and Metheny as a means of rediscovering their previous chemistry with Swallow; Antonio Sanchez is the new one member of this quarter and it may very well be the brilliant drummer’s introduction into the mix, even apart from his solo break on "Missouri Uncompromised," that has much to do with the other three avoiding the pitfall of over-familiarity. They avoid these habits, even as they perform material from their usual sources of composition: –Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Carla Bley and, of course, Pat Metheny himself. 

The latter’s "B and G (Midwestern Night’s Dream)" retains its structure because the foursome float purposefully through the changes. In contrast to the kitschy retro Peter Max cover art, this performance, like the rest of this entire eighty-minute CD, reminds that nostalgia is not the same as vivid recollection.

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