The Big Picture
Burnin' Down the House
If an album featuring high-level musicians jamming on an eclectic range of material appeals to you, look no further than The Big Picture (Burnin' Down the House) by the L.A.-based collective Shapes. Produced by Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip (who appears on two tracks), this two-CD album finds the ensemble-led by keyboardist/vibraphonist Roger Burn and featuring harmonica player Tollak Ollestad and a host of top players-delivering a collection of standards and originals that feel as fresh and spontaneous as a live show. Harmonica, pedal steel guitar and edgy electric guitar from Robben Ford provide unexpected yet effective coloration to John Coltrane's "Naima," while the ensemble infuses "Love for Sale" with a stately swing and mines the abundant jam potential of the Yellowjackets composition "Automat." The Latin-tinged "Eat the Heat" features an agile solo by the gifted bassist Larry Steen and a marimba solo by Burn, while "Measure Once" is a horn-soaked, New Orleans-style jam with plenty of strut, and the poignant "What Now?" exemplifies the eloquence of simplicity-no grandstanding, just sensitive, expressive playing.