Later this year, jazz vibraphonist Gary Burton will step down as vice president of Boston's Berklee College of Music — an institution he dropped out of at 19 to join George Shearing's band.
NPR's Cheryl Corley speaks with Burton about the move and the reason behind it: a desire to spend more time performing and recording. Burton also gives Corley a demonstration of his skill in the studios of WGBH-FM in Boston.
The Indiana native is perhaps best know for inventing a four-mallet grip for the vibraphone, a playing style now standard among contemporary players.
Burton also gets notice for being present at the creation of the California cool jazz scene, playing a key role in saxophonist Stan Getz's quartet in the mid-1960s.
After a few years, Burton left the Getz ensemble at age 24 to form his own group, going on to break new ground in jazz-rock fusion. He returned to Berklee in the 1970s, first teaching percussion and improvisation classes, then moving into administration.
Burton is a multiple Grammy winner and has recorded countless sessions as both a leader and sideman. His latest CD, on Concord Records, is Generations, and features 16-year-old guitarist Julian Lage.