Gary Burton Steps Down, Out

Jazz Vibraphonist Moves On After Three Decades at Berklee

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Listen: <b>Web Extra:</b> Vibes Demo and the Influence of Milt Jackson

Listen: <b>Web Extra:</b> Musical Impact of Being Gay

CD cover of 'Generations'

'Generations' CD cover. hide caption

toggle caption

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.

Related NPR Stories

Web Resources



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor