ABOUT GEORGE BURTON and HIS MUSIC by Dita Sullivan
To see George Burton perform live is to understand the historic link between the jazz musician and the roving gambler (which merged to become the brilliant progenitor of the jazz piano, Jelly Roll Morton); Burton handles the piano with the insouciance of a seasoned card shark, tossing away his virtuosity in seemingly reckless moves that always result in a winning hand. Like Morton, his wandering is based on being a
prodigious composer as well as a classically trained virtuoso instrumentalist and a master of dissonance. All of which could make the observer wonder if the fugitive magic of his live shows could be captured in a recording.

His debut album, The Truth of What I Am > The Narcissist (2016), answered: yes. Featuring ten original compositions that were snapshots of jazz in motion, the album was acclaimed as "precarious, dynamic, revolutionary" (NextBop) and brought Burton's ensemble to The Newport Jazz Festival, Dizzy's at Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center and the legendary Duc du Lombards club in Paris.

Everyone knows that there's no tougher act to follow than oneself. But with his second album, Reciprocity (2020), George Burton has more than proven his talent, creating a modernist landscape that draws on the trajectory of jazz going back to the blues - and establishes him as an oracular presence in a new generation of musicians.
Like Orpheus, whose bewitching lyre playing kept the Argonauts from succumbing to the Sirens' song, Burton weaves a counter spell to the Sirens of today - that call for conformity, kitsch and the politicization of music. Burton knows that jazz is all that we have left of a mystery theater: his music is more than the scene, more than the rules; each song is a vista onto a new world.
Listen to the title track, driven by dissonant chords and a subtle undercurrent of blues. Or to the haunting Us, that restores melodic beauty to jazz. Or to the interweaving harmonies of soprano and alto saxophone in Gratitude.

The album's title refers, perhaps, to the continuity between generations of jazz artists, and the interconnection of genres, from blues to funk to rock that have influenced and been influenced by jazz. I interpret it as how he has united the three principal roles of the jazz musician - Magician (virtuoso), Hierophant (invocator), Explorer (improviser) into one. But then, in keeping with the statement that signaled the birth of modernism: do not ask 'what is it?' Let us go and make our visit. - Dita Sullivan
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