“Legends of Jazz” Showcase with Ramsey Lewis (With Chris Botti, Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, George Duke, Kurt Elling, Benny Golson, Al Jarreau, Jane Monheit, John Pizzarelli, Lee Ritenour, Billy Taylor, Clark Terry, Dave Valentin, Phil Woods & others) – LRS Media DVD + CD 968700, 55:00 ***** [in stores April 25]:
This is a showcase/sampler of 13 of the performances from the over 50 seen on the new PBS Legends of Jazz series which restarted on public TV this month (April) in connection with Jazz Appreciation Month. It’s the first DVD release in the Legends of Jazz series, which will continue this summer with Volumes 1 thru 3 – each containing three episodes from the series of great performances by and intimate conversations with Ramsey Lewis’ guests on the series.
Larry Rosen, a founder of GRP Records and an award-winning producer, put together the 13-program series of one-hour episodes for public TV. They were shot in hi-def and recorded in 5.1 digital audio. The Showcase excerpts single musical performances – one from each episode in the series, and the CD replicates the PCM stereo audio of each of the selections. The discs and the show are getting heavy promotion not only on PBS but also on jazz stations, including smooth jazz outlets.
The first selections getting things off with a high-energy scat-singing “cutting contest” by Kurt Elling and Al Jarreau on Brubeck’s familiar Take Five. It’s from a program on The Jazz Singers. From The Golden Horns trumpet star Chris Botti does a lovely lyrical version of My Funny Valentine. Phil Woods and David Sanborn are heard in a two-alto-sax treatment of Horace Silver’s Senor Blues. Chick Corea solos in his own Armando’s Rhumba, and Benny Golson blows his own tune Killer Joe on tenor sax. From a program on Brazilian Jazz Ivan Lins sings his gorgeous song The Island. Clark Terry does his hilarious Mumbles blues and a duo of Jane Monheit and John Pizzarelli sing some Gershwin. From a Latin Jazz show flutist Dave Valentin plays Obsession, and from The Piano Masters, two of them team up on opposing grands: Dave Brubeck and Billy Taylor. Both image and sound are beyond reproach on the DVD, and there are bonus features such as a photo gallery, complete bios on the the artists and web links.
– John Henry