By Ted Kane
The Big Picture is the second album from pianist/vibraphonist Roger Burn's protean Shapes ensemble. Like their debut, 2003's The Last Farewell, this set features original compositions from not only Burn but also other members, including harmonica player Tollak Ollestad and guitarists Mike Higgins and Matthew Von Doran. This release is a two-CD affair, and Shapes use the additional time to include their arrangements of several standards. The resultant experience is similar to that of seeing the band play a couple of sets at Spaghettini or the Baked Potato on a given night--the big picture of the band ...read more
From its debut recording in 2002, this sextet has morphed into a much larger ensemble, in varied configurations, for this two-disc offering. Although two of its original members, Airto Moreira and Flora Purim, were not present for the making of this album, The Big Picture includes performances by Russell Ferrante and Jimmy Haslip (associated with Yellowjackets), Robben Ford, Roy McCurdy, Mike Fahn, Matt Catingub, and Andy Suzuki.
In keeping with the cinematic concept, the album is structured into a two-disc package of Reel #1 and #2. The cover art depicts a drive-in theatre and this album is in ...read more
Combining smooth jazz originals with classic standards, Shapes weave a collective web of familiar sounds that could easily describe your most recent nostalgic trip to the DVD rental store. Let by vibraphonist/pianist Roger Burn and harmonica player Tollak Ollestad, Shapes form their double CD into a program that easily recalls relaxed movie scenes in general.
The Big Picture" strolls leisurely with a Brazilian bossa nova flavor. Ollestad and Burn team with flutist Andy Suzuki for a light sensation that could well represent a romantic movie scene where folks are faced with nothing more dangerous than their emotions and ...read more
As with the auspicious debut of The Last Farewell , Shapes continue to explore a breadth of styles on their sophomore effort, The Big Picture , still retaining a distinctive complexion that lends cohesiveness to the entire proceeding. That the group, led by Roger Burn, has shifted from being a six-person collective to a one-man operation with a large group of guest contributors makes this sense of focus all the more remarkable. Cast of Thousands'" affairs often contain strong individual performances but lack the unity and chemistry of a more consistent lineup. On the other hand, with a constant revolving-door ...read more
It's only February, and already the hot jazz CDs are in circulation. Typically, it's August or September before I hear an album that just blows me away. Within the first week of this month, I got a pair of two-disc sets that set a high standard that will be tough to beat. The first was the Caribbean Jazz Project's Here and Now - Live in Concert. However, the topic now is Shapes' The Big Picture. Produced by Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip and featuring a varied supporting cast, this second Shapes outing is a split along stylistic lines. Reel ...read more
The Big Picture listening experience had me thinking of the different styles of jazz sounds, from the wild and free end of the spectrum to the more structured funk/groove world. This offering, by Shapes--a vehicle for keyboardist/vibraphone man Roger Burn--has a definite Yellowjackets feel. Produced by bassist Jimmy Haslip of that esteemed ensemble, the sound here is groove-oriented, very well-crafted, with polished arrangements of music mapped out down to the lightposts on the street corners, very little left to chance. In all but the very top musicians that navigate this cartography--Yellowjackets, Bob James, Don Grusin, Weather Report, Return to Forever--there ...read more
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