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In the mid-1980s, Gary Burton was just entering middle age, but he’d had experiences as a jazz player to fill several lifetimes. Duke Ellington had treated him with kindness, Milt Jackson with suspicion, Miles Davis with a death threat. He’d endured the mercurial tendencies of Stan Getz, in whose band he played in the 1960s and who, like so many, fought the battle between creative genius and substance abuse.
Burton’s memoir, “Learning to Listen,” tells these stories and situates its author’s own major contributions in jazz’s history.