George Burton


Award-winning pianist, composer, bandleader and producer George Burton has been called "formidable" (NPR), "charismatic" (The New York Times), "revolutionary" (Nextbop), and "soulful" (Philadelphia Inquirer); his music "multidimensional" (Phila. Inq.), "sublime" (NPR). Burton has established himself as a visionary and prolific force on the piano, a standout who consistently turns heads both on record and in the live music scene, across the jazz spectrum and beyond. His dazzling virtuosity and wide-ranging approach beautifully reflect his experience—beginning with rigorous classical training, branching into the heady nightlife of the Philadelphia jazz scene, and refining his stunningly distinctive style in the New York clubs and on stages worldwide.

Born and raised in Philadelphia by musician parents, Burton grew up playing classical violin and viola while absorbing gospel and blues at home; in high school and college he turned to jazz, diving head first into the scene to get his informal training from Philly hard-bop legend Bootsie Barnes, and learning the subtleties of the genre from veteran pianists on the Philly scene, notably Sid Simmons and Shirley Scott, as well as Mulgrew Miller. After his graduation from Temple University, Burton’s eclectic talents brought him to countless recording studios and stages all over the world in classical, jazz, and beyond, with a diverse range of acts that eventually included Patti LaBelle, Meshell Ndegeocello, The Philly Pops, Terrence Howard, and many others. He had a long tenure as the pianist for Odean Pope's saxophone choir, and from there he earned a place on the world stage with some of the most significant practitioners of post-bop and the avant-garde—from Tim Warfield to James Carter to the Sun Ra Arkestra, with whom he sat in the pianist’s chair from 2012-2019.

Where Burton truly shines, as many reviewers have noted, is in his ability to bring out the best in his band; his ensembles are among the most cutting edge groups on the scene and have played the most prestigious of stages, including the Newport Jazz Festival. Burton’s two fulllength releases, The Truth Of What I Am > The Narcissist (2016), and Reciprocity (2020) were both received to international critical acclaim; the former was chosen as a Top Debut by the NPR Jazz Critics’ Poll, and the latter (which Burton also produced) was nominated for Outstanding Instrumental Jazz Album by the NAACP Image Awards in 2021.

George Burton currently leads multiple performing ensembles and recording projects; his latest endeavor, ambitious as a holiday album but utterly soulful and layered in Burton’s unmistakable style, the Yule Log, will be released in late 2023.

"Burton’s jazz is multidimensional. It incorporates influences from hip-hop and R&B, electronic music and indie rock into a surprisingly cohesive sound shaped by his mastery of vibe — a soulfulness that underlies all of his tunes, whether the surface feels more like hard bop, avantgarde explosiveness, or blissed-out atmospherics." — Shaun Brady, Philadelphia Inquirer

"This critic has rarely, in 11 years and hundreds of concerts, seen a musician who fed off the energy of the room as voraciously as Burton. ... The quintet made magic." — Mike West, Washington Post

George Burton

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