Cool Nights

On last year’s Reunion, seasoned vibist Gary Burton — with his former bandmate Pat Metheny — conducted a noble musical experiment, making pop-jazz with both populist appeal and aesthetic integrity. Burton’s new album, Cool Nights, is chapter two in this phase; it’s urbane, pleasant, and graced with clever quirks, even if it doesn’t achieve quite the same delicate balance between accessibility and artistry. Metheny returns this time as a composer, and also as a discernible influence on Burton’s current guitarist, Wolfgang Muthspiel. As always, Burton knows a good tune when he hears one, and has sure instincts as an interpreter: In particular, he brings out the bittersweet flavor in Vince Mendoza’s joy ride, ”Huba Huba,” and accents the quasi-classical warmth of keyboardist Bob James’ ”Artifacts.” Calm on the surface but with a smart undertow, this album settles in with deceptive ease. B+

Cool Nights
  • Music