Gary Burton Celebrates New Autobiography in Conversation and Concert

Allen Bush
October 8, 2013
Press release
Seven-time Grammy Award-winner Gary Burton returns to Berklee with his quintet and journalist Bob Blumenthal for a special evening of memories and music.
Jimmy Katz, Courtesy of Mack Avenue Records.

Gary Burton, the ground-breaking jazz vibraphonist and seven-time Grammy Award-winner, returns to Berklee College of Music—where he studied, taught, and administrated for a collective 50 years—to celebrate the release of his autobiography, Learning to Listen: The Jazz Journey of Gary Burton. The program will feature Burton in conversation with jazz critic and Grammy Award winner for Best Album Notes Bob Blumenthal. He’ll also perform with his quintet. Copies of Burton’s autobiography will be given to each member of the audience.

The Jazz Journey of Gary Burton, with Julian Lage, Vadim Neselovskyi, Jorge Roeder, and Lee Fish takes place Tuesday, November 12, 8:00 p.m., at the Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue. Tickets are $28, $16 for students, and available at the Berklee Performance Center box office, or at Call 617-747-2261. The BPC is wheelchair accessible.

In Learning to Listen: The Jazz Journey of Gary Burton (Berklee Press), Burton writes of his life from growing up in a small Midwestern farm town where he began music lessons at age 6, to pioneering the jazz-rock genre and introducing the world to the four-mallet vibes technique. His story is about a musician always evolving and expanding his sound with new influences and collaborators. He tells tales of living in Nashville and working alongside Chet Atkins and guitarist Hank Garland, of seeing Jimi Hendrix’s first New York City performance; working with Eric Clapton and members of the Eagles, touring and recording extensively with the iconic Tango musician Astor Piazzola, and even receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Classical Album with his recording Virtuosi.

He also is one of the few openly gay men in jazz, a genre of music that has long been identified with a particularly masculine reputation. He first revealed this on the NPR show Fresh Air, after decades of keeping the secret from those around him.

Burton studied at Berklee from 1960–62, leaving to start his career with George Shearing and Stan Getz. He returned, and began a parallel career teaching percussion and improvisation in 1971. In 1985, he was named dean of curriculum, and in 1996, he was appointed the college's first executive vice president. In 2004, he retired from the college to perform and record full time, though he continues to teach for Berklee Online