Greg Burrows, “Sometime Ago,” from Tell Your Story
Drummer Greg Burrows spent the past 35 years comfortably ensconced in the New York world music scene, serving as the groove engine for some of the city’s most intriguing ensembles, such as the Brooklyn-based Peruvian rock band Chicha Libre and the endearingly unconventional Blue Man Group (he was a percussionist; no blue makeup involved). But for his leader debut, Tell Your Story, he’s decided to return to his jazz roots.
Burrows’ jazz chops are evident from the get-go. He plays with a light touch and a masterful feel for dynamics, and as a bandleader, he prizes group cohesion over individual flash and dazzle. It certainly helps that his bandmates — bassist Harvie S., guitarist Bob DeVos and guest horn players Jamie Finegan (trumpet) and John Fumasoli (trombone) — also happen to be his closest friends. Their close rapport is audible.
Take the track “Sometime Ago,” a fresh, windswept waltz that has Burrows bouncing between roles of timekeeper and sonic stylist. As trumpet and trombone announce the melody, Burrows’ accompaniment rumbles enthusiastically on tom-toms one minute, then floats gracefully to the cymbals the next. It’s a seamless shift but an indispensable one, elevating the group’s playing and opening up new melodic possibilities for all.