There is no doubting the technical facility of vibraphonist Gary Burton. Where he falls down is in his musical outlook. By his own admission he is happier with the more ‘tasteful’ Bill Goodwin on drums than he was with Roy Haynes. In terms of jazz, the group is the poorer for the change and during his stay at Scott’s left no doubt in my mind that Goodwin is little more than a sympathetic time-keeper.
In concentrating the majority of his programme on old favourites, Burton made comparison with his earlier quartet easier and showed that inventive skill and instrumental control are small substitutes for the power of emotional jazz.
On the night that I caught the quartet, it was the minor attraction that captured the attention. Led by pianist Keith Tippett, they were a group that hustled through an impressive programme of originals. On occasions the arrangements were somewhat ‘twee’ and over elaborate but in the main they showed off the excellent thematic material to advantage.
As yet there is no really assertive soloist in the band. The leader’s own piano will be better when he decides whether he wants to travel via Bill Evans or Cecil Taylor.