Gary Burton, born in 1943, is one of the greatest Vibraphonist in Jazz ever. As a Gay man in Jazz Gary Burton is very important.
His first big gig was with George Shearing in 1963 and then he joined Stan Getz’s band in 1964. Burton played with Getz until 1966. He appeared in the film Get Yourself A College Girl (1965), playing The Girl From Ipanema with Astrud Gilberto.
In 1967 he formed the Gary Burton Quartet with guitarist Larry Coryell, drummer Roy Haynes, and bassist Steve Swallow. Predating the Jazz-Rock fusionof the 1970s, the group’s first album, Duster, combined jazz, country, and rock.
Burton was named Down Beat Magazine‘s Jazzman of the Year in 1968, the youngest to receive that title, and won his first Grammy Award in 1972. The following year Burton began a 40-year collaboration with pianist Chick Corea. Their eight albums won Grammy Awards in 1979, 1981, 1997, 1999, 2009, and 2013.
Burton has played with other noted musicians, including Stephane Grappelli, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, B. B. King, Pat Metheny and Astor Piazzolla.
Burton is known for his variation of traditional four-mallet grip which has come to be known as “Burton Grip” (which I assumed had something to do with jerking-off) and he is very popular among other vibraphonists as well as symphonic marimbists.
Burton’s memoir, Learning To Listen (2013) was voted “Jazz Book of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association.
Burton retired from performing in 2017 following a farewell tour with pianist and longtime collaborator Makoto Ozone.
Burton has taught at Berkeley College of Music for decades. He ran the Jazz program and is currently the college’s vice president. In 1980, he went to a Boston club with his boyfriend and was spotted by other members of faculty. So, he outed himself to his friends and other teachers.
In 1982, jazz critic Stanley Crouch outed Taylor as gay. However, Taylor never had denied it. In 1991, Taylor told a New York Times reporter:
…someone once asked me if I was gay. I said, ‘Do you think a three-letter word defines the complexity of my humanity?’ I avoid the trap of easy definition.
Burton married his longtime partner in 2013.