Even before the first note is vibrated, pianist, composer, educator, and arranger George Burton’s regal presence has an air of requesting listeners’ attention—igniting an inherent awareness that something unrivaled is about to go down. In a time when musicians strive to define and refine their sound, George emerges as a game-changer whose acclaimed sound has evolved into an electrifying experience.
Raised in the City of Brotherly Love by parents who are both musicians, George’s musical study began with violin lessons at age four. While classical violin and viola came naturally to George, as a teenager attending Philadelphia’s prestigious High School for the Creative and Performing Arts he was drawn to jazz music being made by his peers. With his steadfast curiosity he emerged from an exceptional classical string student as a true student of music—mastering jazz’s colorful harmonies through refining his chops on piano. Taking full advantage of the rich musical culture in his hometown, by day he studied with jazz organist and legend Shirley Scott, then braved the streets to Ortlieb’s Jazzhaus where jazz pianist Sid Simmons schooled George hard knocks style late into the night. George graduated from Temple University in 2001, at the end of a college career that saw his talent flourish under the tutelage and direction of piano instructor Tom Lawton and jazz bandleader Terell Stafford. In 2002, George was awarded first place at the prestigious Peter Nero Piano Competition, in which he performed as a guest soloist with the Philly Pops. The following year he joined Gerald Veasley and Diane Monroe as a featured orchestral artist in Leslie Burrs' critically acclaimed opera Vanqui, and was also brought on as the pianist for Odean Pope's world-famous Saxophone Choir. George continues as a feature with both acts today. In recent years, George has pursued a career leading his three groups: The George Burton Quintet, Group 5, and his Holiday Series group while also teaching, composing, and performing as a highly sought-after sideman. Years of playing and recording with Odean Pope has allowed George to perform all over the world, sharing the stage with such renowned artists as: James Carter, Jeff “Tain” Watts, the late Michael Brecker, Eddie Henderson, Walter Blanding and Joe Lovano. He has performed on records with Wallace Roney, Donald “Duck” Bailey, Jack Walrath, and Odean Pope. Over the years, George has shared the stage with musicians on all parts of the spectrum, from Me’Shell NdegeOcéllo, Tia Fuller, Stacy Dillard, Terell Stafford, Tim Warfield and Sean Jones, to R&B legend Patti LaBelle and neo-soul artist Renee Neufville.