Fusion is a tough game. Too much rock and you lose your jazz man credibility. Too much jazz and and you get no respect. Expert technical musicianship will relegate you to the nerd-core followers of people like Jaco Pastorius. And to top it all off, no one even REALLY knows what fusion is.
Unfortunately this post is of the nerd-core variety. Gary Burton is one of the most well-known and accomplished vibraphone players in the world. His style of playing with 4 mallets is a technique that he invented, and has since been adopted by virtually all vibraphonists today. This technique known as the “Burton Method” was popularized during the birth of Fusion as a musical style in the early 970s. Fusion brought many great vibraphone players to prominence. Milt Jackson began playing vibes for Miles Davis, and went on to play in the Modern Jazz Quartet as well as many of his own solo and combo recordings. Spyro Gyra brought the Grammy award winning vibes player Dave Samuels to fame. And my personal favorite vibraphonist Roy Ayers gained popularity during this time by bringing a unique R&B flavor to fusion. Virtually every well know vibraphonist today made his name in the early 70s. Sadly, it was a popularity that the vibraphone had never seen before and has yet to see since.
Here is vibraphonist Gary Burton playing with guitarist Keith Jarrett and:
Sam Brown, Guitar
Steve Swallow, Bass
Bill Goodwin, Drums