Jazz Central Featuring

Chaka Khan

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Details At A Glance

Category Music Biography - Cast
Featurette - Meet The Artist (17:00)
Year Released 2000
Running Time 62:29 minutes
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Waymer Johnson
Warner Vision
Warner Vision Australia
Starring Chaka Khan
Mark Stephens
Andy Weimer
Vincent Colaiuta
Melvin Davis
Case TBC
RPI $39.95 Music Various

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s)
English (Dolby Digital 2.0, 256 Kb/s)
English (DTS 5.1, ? Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio No
16x9 Enhancement No
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles Spanish
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, during credits

Plot Synopsis

    I think it was Michael D that once indicated in a review that sometimes we get lumbered doing reviews we really would rather not do, but end up the better for the experience. These thoughts came back to prompt me when I sat down to write this review. This DVD came up for allocation in a bunch of DVDs by a pile of bands that I had barely heard of and certainly wanted to avoid, and that seemed to be the general view of the entire review team as there was a resounding silence to requests (pleadings?) to do the reviews. As a result, and to be saved from being allocated something really disgusting, I stuck my hand up very reluctantly for this DVD featuring an artist that I not so affectionately refer to as Chucka Khan (as in get me the bucket I am going to throw up). Over the years, I have been unable to prevent the talents of this lady being foisted upon me through radio or promotional compact discs and I have never really understood why some hold her in such regard. Personally, I ranked her right up there with the worst of the overrated hacks that have recording contracts. To suggest that I do not think too much of her music is to massively understate the situation - I loathe the woman's music. And so it is that I find myself in the rather unusual position of not only reviewing a DVD featuring Chaka Khan but actually having to admit that it is not too shabby musically, albeit not quite to my tastes in jazz. Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday she certainly is not, but in her own way she is not too bad a jazz singer - and that is positively effusive praise about her from me!

    The selection of songs from this made for television concert are:

  1. Dark Secret
  2. Them There Eyes
  3. My Funny Valentine
  4. Man From Mars
  5. High Wire (The Aerialist)
  6. Soul Mates: I Loves You, Porgy
  7. I'll Be Around
  8. Reconsider
  9. The End Of A Love Affair
  10. Love Me Still
    As you can see, this collection comes from a rather eclectic bunch of song writers, ranging from Rodgers and Hart through the Gershwins to Prince. Despite the rather disparate sources of the songs, the overall collection is quite a fine one and in general nicely presented by Chaka Khan, with some rather good accompaniment from the band (and hence the reason why they get a credit above). Presented in a pseudo jazz club setting, the overall presentation is quite good too, although I do wish that people would refrain from using intense blue lighting when the show is being taped for posterity.

    I am anything but a fan of Chaka Khan, and despite that I actually quite enjoyed this. I may not return to it often, for this is not my preference in jazz, but it is a worthy enough piece of jazz singing that in some ways evokes an earlier era. If you know Chaka Khan from her more popular stuff with the band Rufus or as a soloist, then this may come as a bit of a shock - but hopefully a pleasant one. Worthwhile investigating.

Transfer Quality


    If it were not for the odd problems caused by the intense stage lighting, so often a source of problems for videos taken during live performances, this would have been an exemplary transfer indeed. Indeed, there are so few faults in the transfer that it almost resorts to being pernickety to find something negative to say about it.

    The transfer is presented in a Full Frame format, and it is not 16x9 enhanced.

    In this instance there are not even odd lapses in focus to detract from what is a very sharp and detailed transfer that is about as good as you can reasonably expect from this sort of made-for-television programming. Bright and clear, the detail here just jumps out at you and yet has a nice subtlety to it at times. Shadow detail is very good, even though the darkened audience could perhaps have had just a bit more detail if you were being super-critical. Myself, I certainly have no complaints about the audience detail at all. There were just a few odd hints of noticeable grain that briefly marred the transfer (the most notable example being at 38:40), but even that I did not find at all distracting. Low level noise is also not an issue in the transfer.

    The colours here come up wonderfully well and yet again the whole transfer has a wonderful vibrancy to it. The main problem here is the intense stage lighting which at times causes horrendous flare problems, most notably in the audience shot at 55:05. Still, these instances were rather rare (about three times it happened for a collective fifteen seconds at best) and I am happy enough to overlook them since such problems seem to be inherent in this sort of source material. The transfer generally has a very nice saturation to the colours and apart from those brief audience moments there was nothing in the way of oversaturation here. There was no problem with colour bleed.

    There are no MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There are virtually no film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, apart from some very brief and barely noticeable aliasing - the keyboard and the twelve string guitar are the worst offenders. There was no problem with film artefacts in the transfer.

    The subtitle options listed are only applicable to the supplementary material.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-to-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are three soundtracks on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and an English DTS 5.1 soundtrack. I remembered this time to start out listening to the Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, before proceeding to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and then finally listening to the entire DTS 5.1 soundtrack. Whichever one you choose, you will not be disappointed as these are all fine soundtracks.

    There is no problem with the vocals, which come up very well in the soundtrack and are easy to understand. There did not seem to be any problem with audio sync in the transfer.

    This is a rather nice Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, really open and clear with loads of brightness that really conveys the whole atmosphere of the music very well indeed. I was actually quite enjoying the sound, but had to force myself to move on to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. This little effort is a very nicely engineered production, with restrained use of the bass channel and very specific use of the surround channels. The music and vocals are all mixed to the centre and front surround channels and the rear channels only have audience ambience (applause and the like) tossed at them. The result is one of the best defined soundtracks that I have heard for quite a while and really creates the impression that you are sitting in the audience - the music is definitely coming from in front of you and the audience noise surrounds you when it comes into play. There is little at all to complain about here and I reluctantly moved on to the DTS 5.1 soundtrack. Take everything great about the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and up it by ten percent! This is certainly the most unusual DTS soundtrack that I have yet heard, as there has been a deliberate attempt to keep the bass enhancement out of the rear channels here. The result is simply a fine soundtrack for exactly the same reasons as the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The bass channel gets a little more play here as is to be expected in a DTS soundtrack, and the front surrounds are a lot more active, but the same well-engineered dynamics apply to this soundtrack. In many ways this is audio demonstration of a different and subtle kind, and the soundtracks all suit the music very well indeed. The sound engineer on this effort should take a bow.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    A small package of extras is included here, but really they are not much to rave over.


    A bit of a nothing effort really - no animation and no audio to liven up proceedings.

Biography - Cast

    Actually a very, very short biography of the lady herself as her entire life is condensed into just one page.


    At least this fares a little better, since it gets two pages!

Featurette - Meet The Artist (17:00)

    And we conclude with a monumental disappointment. This is basically seventeen minutes of extracts from the main programme that have very short interview snippets inserted, picture in picture style, occasionally. This is billed as an interview in the menu, but it really is anything but in reality. The presentation is consistent with the main programme, restricted to only Dolby Digital 5.1 sound! Why couldn't we have a proper interview?

R4 vs R1

    This would appear to be identical in content to the Region 1 release that was released just a short while ago. Since that has NTSC formatting, I would suggest that Region 4 is the way to go as I doubt that the Region 1 could be any better in sound or vision.


    Well, Chaka Khan may not be to my taste, but this is quite an enjoyable hour of viewing. The technical quality of the DVD is undisputed and it has to be said that the general quality of these Aviva International releases from Warner Vision Australia are setting a very fine standard. I would have thought that once again the extras package could perhaps have been better from a quality point of view, and it is a pity that we only get an hour of programming here. Well worth seeking this one out for an investigation.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
2nd November 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL