Gary Burton

Gary Burton, born January 23, 1943 in Anderson, Indiana, is an American jazz vibraphonist, composer and jazz educator. Burton innovated a unique four-mallet grip and technique for mallet percussion instruments, more specifically the vibraphone (aka vibraharp or vibes). He is also known for pioneering fusion jazz music as well as popularizing the duet format in jazz. Gary Burton is a major figure in jazz music education having taught the Berklee College of Music for over thirty years.

Gary taught himself to play the vibraphone and, at the age of 17, made his recording debut in Nashville, Tennessee, with guitarists Hank Garland and Chet Atkins. Two years later, Burton left his studies at Berklee College of Music to join George Shearing and subsequently Stan Getz, with whom he worked from 1964-1966. As a member of Getz’s quartet, Burton won Down Beat magazine’s Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition award in 1965. By the time he left Getz to form his own quartet in 1967, Burton had also recorded three albums under his name for RCA. Borrowing rhythms and sonorities from rock music, while maintaining jazz’s emphasis on improvisation and harmonic complexity, Burton’s first quartet attracted large audiences from both sides of the jazz-rock spectrum. Such albums as Duster and Lofty Fake Anagram established Burton and his band as progenitors of the jazz fusion phenomenon.