There was a lot of great playing Saturday night at the Manchester Craftmen's Guild -- a lot. However, I don't think that the playing itself by the Gary Burton Quartet, named for the vibraphone-playing leader, made that show.
I was even more impressed with the material, all but two tunes written by either Mr. Burton or members of the band. It's one thing to rip through a bunch of standards; it's another to sound like a real band doing your own stuff. And of course everyone got a chance to play.
The latter of two shows got started with the quick-paced "The Lookout," penned by guitarist Julian Lage, who also played the lead line using a very flat tone. "Jane Fonda Called Again" -- no symbolism to that title, Mr. Burton suggested -- was pleasant and meandering, almost waltz-like.
It's always appropriate to play some blues, and the soulful "Test of Time" delivered with a modulation during Mr. Burton's solo. He also opened the Keith Jarrett tune "In Your Quiet Place," which he said he recorded with Mr. Jarrett in 1970 or thereabouts, with a beautiful cadenza.
"Caminos," written by drummer Antonio Sanchez, was probably the most complex number, starting out with a unison line by Mr. Burton, Mr. Lage and bassist Scott Colley. Not far behind that was the fast swinger "Did You Get That?" The number provided Mr. Sanchez a bit of room to stretch out.
The band did an encore with "Bags' Groove," Mr. Burton's tribute to the late Milt Jackson, who wrote the tune and, he said afterwards, recorded it 12 times.
My only complaint was that Mr. Colley could barely be heard and Mr. Sanchez overpowered everything else at times. But that would be quibbling.
Rick Nowlin: email@example.com or 412-263-3871.