"George Burton represents what many of Jazz's most exciting figures hoped the genre would become: precarious, dynamic, revolutionary ...unable to be contained." —NEXTBOP, 2016
For more than a decade, the young pianist, composer and bandleader George Burton has been on the radar of everyone who keeps up with innovations in jazz. Praised as “formidable” by NPR, and “charismatic” by The New York Times, Burton's dazzling virtuosity and breathtakingly eclectic approach to music reflect his experience in every aspect of the jazz spectrum: beginning with rigorous classical training, branching into his equally rigorous experience in the heady nightlife of the Philadelphia jazz scene, and earning him a place on the world stage with some of the most significant practitioners of bop, post-bop and beyond—from James Carter to Meshell Ndegecello to the Sun Ra Arkestra—and has landed him on some of the most prestigious of stages with his own groups as a leader, including the 2017 Newport Jazz Festival.
Burton's own work is in a category by itself: he brings not only stunning technique, but music that is complex, uniting all the dimensions of his experience, filtered through the sensibility of a Romantic composer. His compositions are incomparably beautiful—make that scary-beautiful—and powerful—as in mesmerizingly powerful—and haunting—as in "where has this been all my life" haunting.
There is a dynamic quality to hearing George play in that just when you think you've spotted an influence or are ready to compare him to one of the greats, he takes a turn, blending modern and classical in a way that is both playful and transcendent. The vitality in Burton’s music is apparent in his effortless switch in tempo, each note carefully thought out, lingering, distinct and alive. He finds balance where others would waver, bringing the fullest expression of himself to the music he creates.
"The pianist finds truth in a world of phoniness." —WBGO The Checkout, 2017
Burton shines on his debut album, "THE TRUTH OF WHAT I AM > (is greater than) THE NARCISSIST," its title both a remark on today’s “me” driven culture and a nod to Charles Mingus who once said, “In my music, I’m trying to play the truth of what I am. The reason it’s difficult is because I’m changing all the time.” It is a statement highlighting the power of art to transcend the self.
Chosen by NPR Music's Jazz Critics' Poll as a Top Debut of 2016 and by Nextbop for their Top Ten Albums of 2016, "The Truth Of What I Am..." pushes the boundaries of genre and reveals what many reviewers have noted—Burton's ability to bring out the best in his band. Fully embodying the title, Burton takes listeners on a musical journey through various emotions, at once carefree, playful, despondent and volatile, a spirit trying to make sense of itself. Like all great art, the album shines a light on what we all are: layered, complex and ever-changing.
"Why Philly pianist George Burton waited 15 years to make his debut" —XPN The Key, 2016
"Burton stayed put for a while, calling those musically rich but financially meager years in Philadelphia 'the best education I could have gotten.' He apparently learned well." —Liberty City Press, 2014