Gary Burton Quintet: Gary Burton (vibraphone); Pat Metheny (12-string electric guitar); Mick Goodrick (guitar); Steve Swallow (bass); Bob Moses (drums).
Recorded at Studio Bauer, Ludwigsburg, Germany in December 1975.
Personnel: Gary Burton (vibraphone); Pat Metheny (electric 12-string guitar); Mick Goodrick (guitar); Steve Swallow (bass instrument); Bob Moses (drums).
Having explored country, free jazz, blues and funk during his tenure with RCA and Atlantic, Burton was positively liberated by the spatial production values and experimental inclinations of German producer Manfred Eicher. This resulted in an eruption of influential recordings. Together they helped launch a new, more cerebral era of, for want of a better word, fusion.
Arguably the best of his many excellent ensembles, the quintet featured on DREAMS SO REAL is anchored by the rhythm section of bass guitarist Steve Swallow and drummer Bob Moses, veterans of Burton's '60s quartets on RCA. However, by the time of this recording, Moses had perfected a solid time sense and a diverse array of expressive timbres to go with his splashy, combustible polyrhythms. Swallow, meanwhile, had given up the bass violin in favor of the bass guitar, and throughout DREAMS SO REAL he demonstrates a refined touch and remarkable aptitude for cyclical harmonies quite unlike any other bass guitarist. The guitar team of Mick Goodrick and Pat Metheny is less omnipresent on DREAMS SO REAL than on previous quintet releases. Here the focus is on the expressive compositions of pianist Carla Bley, and on the leader's remarkable array of harmonic devices and melodic inflections. It's a perfect match: witness Burton's tolling, poignant reading of her "Jesus Maria," and the band's serene swing on the waltzing "Intermission Music."
As a composer, Bley is a superb melodist, with a sly harmonic logic and a caustic sense of humor. On the medley "Ictus/Syndrome/Wrong Key Donkey" she moves from Cecil Taylor-like outbursts, to a celebratory vamp figure, to Monkish swing. Monk rears his head again on "Doctor" where Burton essays joyous variations with a hint of blues, and he transcends the chilly precision of the vibes with bell-like grace on the gospelish southwestern dances of "Vox Humana."