A native of Anderson, Ind., born Jan. 23, 1943, Burton started in music by teaching himself to play piano at the age of 6, studied piano and composition in high school, and taught himself to play vibes. He attended Berklee in the early '60s, then toured and recorded with George Shearing's group. Burton later worked with Stan Getz, then formed the first of his own quartets, that one including guitarist Larry Coryell. Burton went on to a long association with the ECM label that included work in settings with both his quartets and duos with Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett.
After the ECM efforts, Burton was briefly with GRP and lately has recorded for Concord, including 1999's Like Minds with Chick Corea, Pay Metheny, Roy Haynes and Dave Holland. Among his best recordings are A Genuine Tong Funeral (an RCA outing arranged by Carla Bley) and The New Quartet on ECM.