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Shapes: The Big Picture

Jim Santella By

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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 the ocean's pulsing waves.

Burn's originals take on a smooth jazz flavor that emphasizes a thundering drum set, cool electric and acoustic bass pulses, and harmonic blends from varied horns. "Lobster" struts and strolls with a funk drive that takes the band into high gear. Dedicated to Jimmy Haslip, Russell Ferrante, and Robben Ford, Burn's piece provides plenty of room for high-powered exploration. As Ollestad, Ford, Suzuki, and Burn stretch out, the listener gets pulled into the mix, as if drawn into the plot of a classic movie. Ferrante supplies the classic organ sound that makes this one so delicious.

"Love for Sale" combines the swinging romanticism of the piece with a collage of unorthodox sounds. It works. Beginning with an eerie, sci-fi, electronic fade in, the band's arrangement allows for a smooth transition that eventually entertains Burn's smooth jazz piano in a swinging affair. Along the way, clarinet, bass clarinet and trombone add significant digressions. The band sweeps this one away with an attitude that says, "Let's do something different today, dear, because I'm sick and tired of the same ol' thing."

"I Didn't Know What Time It Was" begins with a mellow cello/piano duet. The classical touch continues, as Pauline Wilson sings the familiar torch song with grace: light as a feather. Ferrante's use of sampled strings gives the arrangement significant charm.

Shapes give their audience variety. They run hot and contemporary. They also run mellow and nostalgic. The mixture makes for a pleasant evening. Like a night at the movies, this performance provides uppers and downers to capture your imagination fully. Forget about the popcorn; save your appetite for the music.

Track Listing: CD1: Arc of Twilight, Naima, The Big Picture, Gabriela, Eat the Heat, Lobster, Measure Once, Sotto Voce. CD2: Softly As in a Morning Sunrise, Love for Sale, In the Outdoors, I Didn't Know What Time It Was, Automat, I Still Remember, What Now?

Personnel: Tollak Ollestad--chromatic harmonica, keys, background vocals; roger Burn--keys, vibraphone; Larry Steen, Dean Taba--bass, Jimmy Haslip; various others...

Title: The Big Picture | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Burnin' Down the House Records

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