"Picture This" is the second album that Gary Burton has recorded with his current quartet. Like the first, it readily reveals why the vibraharpist has chosen to experiment with different instrumentation.
Jim Odgren's alto saxophone replaces the quartet's once-familiar guitar or trumpet. The result is a fresher and more focused sound. The melodious interplay that has always characterized the relationship between Burton and bassist Steve Swallow -- again beautifully illustrated here on Chick Corea's "Waltz" -- is now also apparent in the harmonies generated by vibes and saxophone.
With their similar range, the two instruments complement each other on Carla Bley's moody "Dreams So Real," where the harmonies are lush and insinuating. Charles Mingus' romantic "Duke Ellington's Sound of Love" makes good use of Odgren's breathy tone and the colorful resources of drummer Mike Hyman.
Not everything is quite so compelling, however: The longwinded "Tanglewood '63," with its Chuck Mangione-like theme, wears thin fast. But most of the album, including the two pieces written by Odgren, flows with the natural sparkling grace you expect from Gary Burton. ON RECORD, ON STAGE THE ALBUM GARY BURTON QUARTET -- Picture This (ECM- 1-1226). THE SHOW GARY BURTON QUARTET, Monday at 9 and 11 at Blues Alley.