Gary Burton

Born January 23, 1943
Anderson, Indiana, U.S.
Genres Jazz, jazz fusion
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Vibraphone

Gary Burton (born January 23, 1943) is an American jazz vibraphonist, composer, and educator. Burton developed a pianistic style of four-mallet technique as an alternative to the prevailing two-mallet technique. This approach caused him to be heralded as an innovator, and his sound and technique are widely imitated. He is also known for pioneering fusion jazz and popularizing the duet format in jazz, as well as being a major figure in music education from his 30 years at the Berklee College of Music.

Burton was born in Anderson, Indiana in 1943. Beginning music at six years old, he mostly taught himself to play marimba and vibraphone. He began studying piano at age sixteen while finishing high school at Princeton Community High School in Princeton, Indiana (1956–60). He has cited jazz pianist Bill Evans as the inspiration for his approach to the vibraphone.

Early in his career, at the behest of noted Nashville saxophonist Boots Randolph, Burton moved to Nashville and recorded with several notable Nashville musicians, including guitarist Hank Garland, pianist Floyd Cramer and guitarist Chet Atkins.

After touring the U.S. and Japan with pianist George Shearing, Burton played with saxophonist Stan Getz from 1964 to 1966. It was during this time that he appeared with the band in the movie Get Yourself a College Girl, playing “Girl from Ipanema” with Astrud Gilberto. In 1967 he formed the Gary Burton Quartet with guitarist Larry Coryell, drummer Roy Haynes, and bassist Steve Swallow. Predating the jazz-rock fusion[4] craze of the 1970s, the group’s first album, Duster, combined jazz, country, and rock. However, some of Burton’s previous albums (notably Tennessee Firebird and Time Machine, both from 1966) had already shown his inclination toward such experimentation. After Coryell left the quartet in the late 1960s, Burton hired a number of well-regarded guitarists: Jerry Hahn, David Pritchard, Mick Goodrick, Pat Metheny, John Scofield, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Kurt Rosenwinkel, and Julian Lage.

Burton was named Down Beat magazine’s Jazzman of the Year in 1968 (the youngest to receive that title) and won his first Grammy Award in 1972. The following year Burton began a forty-year collaboration with pianist Chick Corea, recognized for popularizing the format of jazz duet performance. Their eight albums won Grammy Awards in 1979, 1981, 1997, 1999, 2009, and 2013.

Burton retired from performing in March 2017 following a farewell tour with pianist and longtime collaborator Makoto Ozone.

Personal life

Following an early marriage in his twenties, Burton married for a second time, from 1975–84, to Catherine Goldwyn, granddaughter of film producer Samuel Goldwyn (1879–1974). They have two children, Stephanie and Sam, and two grandchildren.

By the 1980s, Burton was in a gay relationship and he came out publicly in a 1994 radio interview with Terry Gross, making him one of rather few openly gay jazz musicians of prominence. In 2013, he married his longtime partner, Jonathan Chong.


As leader

New Vibe Man in Town (RCA, 1961)
Who is Gary Burton? (RCA, 1962)
3 in Jazz (RCA, 1963)
Something’s Coming! (RCA, 1963)
The Groovy Sound of Music (RCA, 1964)
Tennessee Firebird (RCA, 1966)
The Time Machine (RCA, 1966)
A Genuine Tong Funeral (RCA, 1967)
Lofty Fake Anagram (RCA, 1967)
Duster (RCA, 1967)
Gary Burton Quartet in Concert (RCA, 1968)
Good Vibes (Atlantic, 1969)
Throb (Atlantic, 1969)
Gary Burton & Keith Jarrett (Atlantic, 1971)
Live in Tokyo (Atlantic, 1971)
Alone at Last (Atlantic, 1971)
Crystal Silence (ECM, 1972) with Chick Corea
Paris Encounter (Atlantic, 1972) with Stéphane Grappelli
Seven Songs for Quartet and Chamber Orchestra (ECM, 1973)
The New Quartet (ECM, 1973)
Ring (ECM, 1974) with Eberhard Weber
Matchbook (ECM, 1975) with Ralph Towner
Dreams So Real (1975) (ECM)
Hotel Hello (ECM, 1975) with Steve Swallow
Passengers (ECM, 1977) with Eberhard Weber
Times Square (ECM, 1978)
Duet (ECM, 1979) with Chick Corea
Easy as Pie (ECM, 1980)
In Concert, Zürich, October 28, 1979 (ECM, 1980) with Chick Corea
Picture This (ECM, 1982)
Lyric Suite for Sextet (ECM, 1982) with Chick Corea
Real Life Hits (ECM, 1984)
Whiz Kids (ECM, 1986)
Slide Show (ECM, 1986) with Ralph Towner
Times Like These (GRP, 1988)
Reunion (GRP, 1989) with Pat Metheny, Will Lee, Peter Erskine, Mitchel Forman
Right Time, Right Place (GNP Crescendo, 1990) with Paul Bley
Cool Nights (GRP, 1991)
Six Pack (GRP, 1992)
It’s Another Day (GRP, 1993)
Face to Face (GRP, 1995) with Makoto Ozone
Live in Cannes (Jazz World, 1996)
Departure (Concord Jazz, 1997)
Native Sense – The New Duets (Stretch Records, 1997) with Chick Corea
Ástor Piazzolla Reunion: A Tango Excursion (Concord Jazz, 1998)
Like Minds with Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Roy Haynes, and Dave Holland (1998)
Libertango: The Music of Ástor Piazzolla (Concord Jazz, 2000)
For Hamp, Red, Bags, and Cal (Concord Jazz, 2001)
Virtuosi (Concord, 2002)
Music of Duke Ellington (LRC, 2003)
Generations (Concord Jazz, 2004)
Next Generation (Concord, 2005)
The New Crystal Silence (Concord Jazz, 2008) with Chick Corea
Quartet Live (Concord Jazz, 2009) with Pat Metheny, Steve Swallow, Antonio Sanchez
Common Ground (Mack Avenue, 2011)
Hot House (Concord Jazz, 2012) with Chick Corea
Time Thread (Universal, 2013) with Makoto Ozone
Guided Tour (Mack Avenue, 2013)


Live from the Detroit Jazz Festival – 2013 (Mack Avenue, 2014)
Hommage a Eberhard Weber (ECM, 2015)

As sideman

With Chet Atkins

After the Riot in Newport with the Nashville Allstars (RCA, 1960)
With Bob Brookmeyer

Bob Brookmeyer and Friends (Columbia, 1962)
With Thomas Clausen

Cafe Noir (Intermusic, 1991)
Flowers and Trees (MA Music, 1992)
With Bruce Cockburn

The Charity of Night (1996)
With Floyd Cramer

Last Date (1960)
With Eddie Daniels

Benny Rides Again (GRP, 1992)
With Hank Garland

Jazz Winds from a New Direction (1961) also released as Hank Garland & Gary Burton Three-Four The Blues (1961)
The Unforgettable Guitar of Hank Garland (Columbia, 1962)
With Stan Getz

Getz Au Go Go (Verve, 1964)
Getz/Gilberto No. 2 (Verve, 1964)
Nobody Else But Me (Verve, 1964)
The Canadian Concert of Stan Getz (Can-Am, 1965)
The Stan Getz Quartet in Paris (Verve, 1966)

With Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones Explores the Music of Henry Mancini (Mercury, 1964)
With k.d. lang

Ingénue (Sire, 1992)
With Jay Leonhart

Four Duke (Absolute Spain, 1995)
With Arif Mardin

Journey (Atlantic, 1974)
With Ástor Piazzolla

The New Tango (Atlantic, 1987)
With George Shearing

Jazz Concert (1963)
Out of the Woods (1963)
Rare Form! (1966, [1963])
With Steve Swallow

Swallow (Xtra Watt, 1991)
With Eberhard Weber

Fluid Rustle (ECM, 1979)
Hommage à Eberhard Weber (ECM, 2015)
With Jon Weber

Simple Complex (2nd Century Jazz, 2004)

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