As the Classics Chronological Series works its way into the early and mid-'50s, the magnitude of producer Norman Granz's achievement becomes increasingly apparent. Some of the greatest jazz musicians of all time - Oscar Peterson, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Johnny Hodges, Lester Young - were signed by Granz at a time when many Afro-American jazz musicians were struggling to get steady work, and jazz in general was beginning to take a back seat to pop vocals, R&B and rock & roll. Drummer and bandleader Buddy Rich had only just begun to lead a big band when the post-WWII restructuring of the entertainment industry edged him out. He was able to continue making records by working with smaller groups, oftentimes at recording sessions supervised by Norman Granz…
Once Gary Burton retired from his duties at Berklee, he began to scale back his touring with a full-time quartet. In 2010, he assembled a new band with the phenomenal young guitarist Julian Lage (who first sat in with the vibraphonist at the age of 12), veteran bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Antonio Sanchez, all of whom have recorded as bandleaders themselves. Six of the CD's ten tracks were contributed by the quartet's members, starting with Colley's intricate "Never the Same Way," which incorporates a Latin flavor in its tricky 7/4 meter. Sanchez contributed the infectious cooker "Common Ground" (featuring great solos all around and capturing the spirit of Burton's earlier quartets), and "Did You Get It?" a lively blues with a playful call-and-response between Lage and Burton in its introduction.
The beloved Brazilian guitar legend's resumé is so chock-full of varied musical experiences – jazz, pop, film scoring, ten years with Sergio Mendes – that his brilliant solo efforts can't help but include informal homages to different eras of his life. He starts out here getting straight to the heart of the matter, paying tribute to his fellow countryman Antonio Carlos Jobim with a self-contained plucky guitar/vocal duet of "Waters of March," which includes spirited scat passages. He moves into samba mode for a lively medley of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker tunes, "Groovin' High/Whispering," deferring to Toots Thielemans' always engaging harmonica for melody as he harmonizes gently; then they switch roles.
Let's put the hook in right from the jump: Echoes of Indiana Avenue is perhaps the most significant release of previously unissued material by a major jazz artist since the The Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane: At Carnegie Hall appeared in 2005. That's not hyperbole. These tapes, which consist of two live recordings and one studio demo, were cut, presumably, between 1957 and 1958, with various groupings of musicians, including his brothers Monk and Buddy, as well as pianist Earl Van Riper and bassist Mingo Jones. All of the tunes here are now regarded as standards, but some were current then, freshly added in that era, such as Shorty Rogers' "Diablo's Dance," Horace Silver's "Nica's Dream," and perhaps most importantly, Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight" and "Straight No Chaser."