DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Yellowjackets – The Paris Concert at New Morning (2008)

A recent live concert in Paris by the noted fusion quartet

Published on May 30, 2009

Yellowjackets – The Paris Concert at New Morning (2008)

Yellowjackets – The Paris Concert at New Morning (2008)

Performers: Bob Mintzer, sax & EWI; Russell Ferrante, piano & keyboards; Jimmy Haslip, bass; Marcus Baylor, drums)
Program: Aha, Capetown, Bop Boy, Prayer for Peace, Cross Current, Dewey, With These Hands, Freedomland, Even Song, Downtown, Healing Waters, Evening News
Studio: Inakustik/Heads Up HUDV 7167 [Also available in Blu-ray version]
Video: 16:9 color
Audio: DTS 5.1, DD 5.1, PCM Stereo
No regional coding
Extras: Soundcheck sketches
Length: 98 minutes
Rating: ****

This superstar fusion group has charted a very successful career for themselves ever since their original launch back in 1981.  They have made made CDs for the Heads Up label, with their mix of jazz, rock, funk, bebop and R&B being popular with many listeners. They have won two Grammies and several nominations.

This concert was recorded in hi-def in Paris and is on both standard DVD and Blu-ray.  The visual coverage looks just find on this DVD but the lossless surround audio of the Blu-ray version would undoubtedly be an improvement. Although the notes on the box don’t mention it, Mintzer plays his Electronic Wind Instrument on some of the tracks.  Generally I’m more partial to the acoustic instruments, but I liked his playing very much on the quieter Prayer for Peace.  Ferrante also makes use of the synth on top of his piano, frequently duoing on it with Mintzer when the latter is playing his EWI for a thoroughly electronic timbre.  After about a half dozen of the quartets’ original tunes I was wishing for just one standard as a change of pace. The stage at New Morning seems more ample than most Parisian jazz clubs, and the lighting people feature  strongly colorful lights which change from number to number. On many of the closeups of the performers when shooting toward the lights, the smoke in the club achieves some lovely and artistic effects. Not likely many Paris clubs have instituted no-smoking policies! You might say there’s a nuage of Gauloises over the Yellowjackets here.

 – John Henry

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