Burge, Rusty- New Adventures: Ten Pieces for Vibraphone

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New Adventures: Ten Pieces for vibraphone includes ten vibraphone solos. 

Review from Percussive Notes (2022):

There are very (very) few people who can match Rusty Burge’s level of achievement and expertise in the combined fields of jazz and classical vibraphone, and his New Adventures collection is equal parts testament to that achievement and a doorway to following one or both of those vibraphone paths. The collection includes two brand-new pieces and eight earlier compositions that have been adapted for this book, all with the intent of creating a folio of improvisatory music that would be meaningful projects in the hands of both classical and jazz performers. 

The effort is enormously successful. This is not a book of “jazzy-sounding classical charts” or classical works with some jazz-adjacent improvisatory elements artlessly shoehorned into the score; this is a truly complete collection of ten excellent standalone works that will be genuinely fulfilling in the hands of jazz or classical percussionists. 

What strikes me the most about this collection is the sheer variety. Some of the pieces lean more towards one side of the spectrum or the other, including some (such as “Waltz for Tomorrow” and “Leaf”) with traditional jazz chord changes provided for improvisation, and others (such as “Lines” and “Emergence”) that seem like etudes more in the style of Stravinsky than Strayhorn. “Lines” is a particularly interesting example, as the performer is eventually allowed to improvise, but over the C octatonic scale, rather than the blues. “Careful Planning” is another noteworthy entry; the piece may be played as a duet between vibraphone and unpitched percussion (or other partner), and allows both performers the chance to improvise freely. 

My favorite piece is the expressive and harmonically rich “Emergence,” but you won’t go wrong ordering anything on this menu. In addition to the artistic (and, at an advanced level, educational) value of this collection, I greatly appreciate the clarity of Burge’s notation. All pedalings, deadstrokes, dampening, and improvised elements are intuitively and cleanly marked so as to be easily understood by performers who don’t want to spend half an hour looking at the music through a microscope. For advanced vibraphonists and students of all stripes, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. 

—Brian Graiser


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