The idea for the Gary Burton Quartet Revisited was hatched at last year's Montreal Jazz Festival, when the legendary jazz vibraphonist played with guitarist Pat Metheny, who was a fledgling talent in the Quartet from 1974-77.
"We though it would be a lark,," Burton, 63, says of the Canadian gig, "a fun, nostalgic thing to do -- one gig with the old music to have some fun with it.
"It went so well that, as we came off stage, we started talking about it. And it just grew from there."
The idea expanded not only into a tour but into a revitalized version of the Quartet, with longtime bassist Steve Swallow and Metheny's regular drummer, Antonio Sanchez. In addition to the live dates the group is also planning to release an album later this year, which Burton is confident will be anything but a rehash of past glories.
"The reason we decided to do it," Burton explains, "is that instead of the music feeling like we were doing it again the way we used to do it, it sort of had a fresh feel to it -- no doubt because we've all aged 30 years and grown and evolved as musicians.
"Every piece we're playing was chosen because we're doing them better now, which is really wonderful."
How much of a going concern the Quartet Revisited will be is unclear. All of the players have other projects they're working on, and Burton is committed to a new album and lengthy tour with pianist Chick Corea to celebrate the 35th anniversary of their first collaboration. But Burton isn't ruling out future work with Metheny and company, either.
"In jazz, there's a tendency to keep on changing and keep on moving," says the Indiana native, who now resides in Florida. "We're always looking for the next new project to try to experiment with. But you do tend to develop some longtime relationships -- that's what inspired (the Quartet) to do more than one fun afternoon in Montreal."
The Gary Burton Quartet Revisited performs at 8 tonight at the Music Hall Center, 350 Madison Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $75, $65 and $45. Call (313) 887-8500 or visit
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