The revolutionary vibraphonist hits Chicago in the midst of a watershed year. His collaborative concert with nueva tango creator Astor Piazzolla, recorded in 1986 at the Montreux festival, has just been released; he has finished work on an upcoming all-star session that features hot tenor man Mike Brecker and guitarist John Scofield; there’s even word that he may leave ECM records, the label for which he and Keith Jarrett have long been emblematic. Burton will reopen the Jazz Showcase with almost the same quintet that played here last year (including pianist Makoto Ozone) but with a new saxophonist, highly touted Denny McCaslin. Other than that, it’s business as usual–which means tightly wrapped ensemble work, energetic and organized solos all around, and a level of professionalism that negates the possibility of an off night. The microcosm for this consistency is Burton’s own solo style: its lyricism depends less on traditional linear improvisation than upon a heavily ornamented gestalt, achieving its peak in bursts of breathtaking virtuosity. Wednesday through next Sunday, March 20, Joe Segal’s Jazz Showcase, Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan; 427-4300.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Catherine Goldwyn.