Gary Burton Calls It a Career
“It increasingly makes me uncomfortable when I go out on stage and I don’t feel as confident that I’m going to have a great night,” Burton says. “I’m starting to have moments — what we call senior moments. I have them sometimes when I’m playing. I suddenly forget where I am in the song. So, for a few seconds I’m fumbling and having to guess where the heck am I, how do I get back into it, and so on.”
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And he has heart problems too.
So, he decided to call it a career before he either drops dead on stage or makes an ass of himself. In other interviews, he mentions other Jazz Legends who overstayed their welcome and played way past their ability to maintain their dignity: Oscar Peterson, Dizzy, and others.
I too have witnessed first hand some indignities. A senior band director going headfirst into his music stand. Another, so blind he couldn’t follow the score. Poor man proud to the end, fumbling with the score in front of 60 embarrassed friends and colleagues.
We owe it to our fellow musicians to stand aside, both for our own dignity and the integrity of the music and our legacy, big or small. We don’t want people to say of us, “they used to be great”.
Until then folks, get some sleep, curb the booze, take a walk, practice, hang with friends, write some music, play some gigs and have some fun.
David Story: Professional pianist, drummer, composer, and educator. Well into his 5th enthusiastic musical decade, David works with adults pursuing musical dreams in the autumn of life, while he maintains an active presence in the Toronto arts scene.