Concert reunion at NYC’s Blue Note of Corea and world-renowned performers from his past ensembles
Studio: Colossalvision/Ideal/Image Entertainment 10-DVD Set ID17961EDVD
Video: 1.78:1 enhanced for 16:9 widescreen, color
Audio: PCM stereo, DD 4.0, DTS 4.0
Extras: Bonus 100-min. DVD of excerpts from the performances, with comments by Chick and some of the top names in jazz, narrated by Jeff Goldblum.
Length: 7 hours, 39 minutes
We reviewed the initial double-disc SACD set of excerpts from this unprecedented series of live concerts back in June 2003. The event was Corea’s 60th birthday party, and he invited some of the top jazz names who had played with him in his various groups over the past four decades to come and play with him at the Blue Note. It took place over a three-week period in December of 2001 and was videotaped in high definition as well as recorded in 16-track DSD, which on these DVDs has been downsampled to NTSC for the image part and to four-channel DTS for the surround audio. Both are superb – the images definitely look much higher resolution than the typical concert video on DVD, and the DTS sonics are clean and wide range. There are many extreme closeups of the performers and their instruments. The ensembles are backed up against a brick wall at the Blue Note, so there’s no opportunity for the cameramen to shoot from the opposite side, but there’s still plenty of variety in the videography, and even the waitresses going back and forth in front of the camera on occasion are not nearly as disruptive as on some jazz videos I’ve viewed.
To proceed further I must now list the performers on the nine separate DVD concerts, which all include a few remarks by Chick between some of the tunes:
Chick Corea & Bobby McFerrin Duet
How He Sings, Now He Sobs Trio
Remembering Bud Powell Band
Chick Corea & Gary Burton Duet
Chick Corea Akoustic Band
Chick Corea & Origin
Chick Corea & Gonzalo Rubalcaba Duet
Chick Corea New Trio
Three Quartets Band
I think the duo with Bobby McFerrin is my favorite of the concerts, though they’re all great. As Chick says, McFerrin is a totally unique artist. Their easy-going improvisations are just amazing. Bela Fleck joins in on banjo in their medley of Corea’s Spain and the movement of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. The concert closes with McFerrin getting the audience and one woman in it in particular to join in on Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile.” My next favorite concert would be the duet with the exciting Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba; their empathy with what each other is doing at the keyboard is phenomenal.
The third duet situation among the nine concerts is the one with vibist Gary Burton – also an empathic duo. As Burton himself observed, “We discovered an immediate connection, like two people who speak the same obscure language.” The Bud Powell Band sports Joshua Redman on sax and Terence Blanchard on trumpet with Chick and his rhythm section. The Origin band expands the front line to Steve Wilson and Tim Garland on saxes and Steve Davis on trombone. Three of the four tunes this band performs are originals by Corea. The rest of the trios and quartets differ in the artists playing with Chick and the general focus of their music. For example the Now He Sings trio is built around the inventive bassist Miroslav Vitous and the longtime jazz drumming master Roy Haynes; also two of the five tunes they do are by Thelonious Monk. The Three Quartets Band is not something with string quartet – which Chick has done in his varied career – but instead uses jazz instrumentation in mimicking classical chamber music structure and stressing the lyrical side of the music. The melodic lines are not especially tonal but the quartet with Michael Becker on tenor sax does produce a chamber jazz feeling something like heard with a string quartet.
This collection understandably took several years to edit and produce. It is certainly worth it, and sets new standards for the presentation of jazz videos, making some of the ones I’ve viewed lately look downright amateurish.
– John Henry