[5 July 2011]
It’s hard not to compare Common Ground to Gary Burton’s Quartet Live album from a couple years back, and not just because one follows the other. Live, despite its ensemble approach, largely turned out to be guitarist Pat Metheny’s showcase. Common Ground has Burton returning to a quartet, but this time Julian Lage has to follow Metheny’s performance. It’s worth noting that both were young guitarists largely introduced by Burton, Lage just seven years ago at the age of 17. Lage isn’t ready to replace Metheny, but he certainly deserves his spot here, whether ripping through a cut like drummer Antonio Sanchez’s “Did You Get It?” or slinking through a nice working of “My Funny Valentine”. Of course, the group as a whole is as tight as you’d expect, and after his 50 years of recording, Gary Burton continues to excel on the vibes. Common Ground probably won’t be any sort of landmark record, but it’s no less impressive for that fact.