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: Disc 1: Arc of Twilight; Naima; The Big Picture; Gabriela; Eat the Heat; Lobster; Measure Once; Sotto
Voce. Disc 2: 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- harmonica, bass harmonica, background vocals, piano, synth; Roger Burn- vibraphone, acoustic piano, marimba, B-3 organ; Robben Ford, Matthew Von Doran, Mike Higgins, Ken Lassaine, Doug Livingston- guitar; Andy Suzuki- flute, alto flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone; Russell Ferrante- acoustic piano, B-3 organ, synth, sampled strings; Jimmy Haslip- electric bass, tambourine, background vocals, synth; Larry Steen, Dean Taba- acoustic bass; Roy McCurdy, David Derge- drums; Michael Barsimanto- drums, cymbals; Walfredo Reyes, Jr., Billy Hulting- percussion; Joe Turano- accordion; Wayne Cook- B-3 organ; Rick Rossi- flute; Bill Bergman- tenor saxophone; Les Lovitz- trumpet; Mike Fahn- valve trombone; Steve Baxter- trombone; George McMullen- trombone, didgeridoo; Nick Lane- trombone, bass trombone; Matt Catingub- alto saxophone on "I Didn't Know What Time It Was;" Pauline Wilson- vocal on "I Didn't Know What Time It Was;" Wally Wino- vocal on "Measure Once."
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.