Pat Metheny Group-Speaking of Now Live (2003)

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Released 14-Jan-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music None
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 134:44
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (71:27) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Takayuki Watanabe
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Pat Metheny Group
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Pat Metheny
Lyle Mays


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 4.1 L-R-LS-RS-Sub (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Disclaimer: I am a rabid Pat Metheny Group fan, so if I sound like I'm gushing, please forgive me. Not only do I have all their albums (the official ones plus bootlegs), I also collect VHS videos and DVDs from around the world (such as Region 2 Japan, Region 3 Hong Kong and of course Region 1 USA). Speaking Of Now: Live is the first "official" Pat Metheny Group DVD available in Region 4, so this is a fairly significant title. Needless to say, I also own the Region 1 version of this disc.

    The Pat Metheny Group was formed in 1978, and consisted of jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, keyboardist Lyle Mays, bassist Mark Egan and drummer Dan Gottlieb. They released their self-titled first album in that same year, but it wasn't until the release of Off Ramp that the Group sound consisting of Pat's electric and acoustic guitars (coupled with the now infamous use of Pat's Roland guitar synthesizer) as well as Lyle's lilting piano and Oberheim "fluty" sound became entrenched. Over the years, the band has experimented with different sounds, ranging from the straight-ahead jazz-rock idioms of the early albums, through to the Latin-influenced late 80s through a mixture of "back to basics" and adventurous forays into new genres in the last decade.

    Speaking Of Now is the group's latest album, released in 2002. It features a new band line-up, consisting of regulars Pat Metheny (guitars), Lyle Mays (piano/keyboards), Steve Rodby (acoustic bass) plus new band members Antonio Sanchez (drummer), Richard Bona (vocals, percussion) and Cuong Vu (trumpet, vocals). It is lighter in tone and seemingly less complex than their previous album, the Grammy award winning Imaginary Day. However, don't be fooled by the easy listening music - the densely layered complexity is still there, but sweetened and more accessible.

    This is an edited live concert performance, taken from their tour to promote the new album. It was recorded on 19-20 September 2002 in the NHK Concert Hall, Tokyo, Japan. Gaps between songs have obviously been edited out, but some songs from the set list are also missing: notably Phase Dance and Bright Size Life.

    The concert opens with a solo from Pat on his baritone guitar, performing Last Train Home - a song originally featured on the still life (talking) album but in a radical new arrangement with an extended improvised intro (a similar version is on Pat's latest solo baritone guitar album One Quiet Night). This is followed by a version of Go Get It, originally premiered on the Trio 99 -> 00 album.

    Most of the songs from the Speaking Of Now album are performed, with the surprising exception of the last two tracks (Afternoon, and Wherever You Go). Each song is introduced by a few seconds of black and white video containing a caption of the song title.

    There are also some old concert staples (which have never been released on studio albums): a version of Jobim's Insensatez (How Insensitive) and the free-form Scrap Metal.

    Songs from previous albums are not really featured much, so obviously the focus is very much on the latest album. We get an interesting new arrangement of Are You Going With Me? featuring Pat Metheny on guitar and Cuong Vu on trumpet. The Grammy award heavy rock inspired The Roots Of Coincidence from Imaginary Day is also performed. The concert ends with a medley of A Map Of The World (from the soundtrack to the film), featuring Pat Metheny on the Mini Manzer, followed by a version of In Her Family (from the still life (talking) album) bridged by an improvised piano solo by Lyle Mays. The encore is an extended version of Song For Bilbao where every band member gets their own spot.

    One of the joys of a Pat Metheny Group concert is that the songs are never quite the same as the studio versions. As It Is features a new, extended guitar solo. Proof features a trumpet solo from Cuong Vu. The Gathering Sky features an extended drum solo from Antonio Sanchez. Another Life is introduced by an extended Pat guitar solo, and On Her Way is introduced by vocalisations from Richard Bona.

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Track Listing

1. Last Train Home
2. Go Get It
3. As It Is
4. Proof
5. Insensatez (How Insensitive)
6. The Gathering Sky
7. You
8. A Place In The World
9. Scrap Metal
10. Another Life
11. On Her Way
12. Are You Going With Me?
13. The Roots Of Coincidence
14. A Map Of The World - In Her Family
15. Song For Bilbao

Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is in widescreen 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. This is presumably the intended aspect ratio, although I was expecting 1.78:1.

    The transfer source is probably video tape, as the video appears to be inherently interlaced (I noticed some combing errors generated by my player if I forced it to progressive deinterlacing mode).

    The overall transfer appeared to be a bit soft, although detail levels were acceptable. Colour saturation was good, especially given the low lighting conditions on stage.

    I did not really notice any compression artefacts apart from some aliasing which could also be attributed to the interlaced video.

    There are no subtitle tracks.

    This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). The layer change occurs in Chapter 9 at 71:27. It occurs during a fade to black so should be unnoticeable on most players.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are two audio tracks on the disc: English Dolby Digital 4.1 L-R-LS-RS-Sub (448Kb/s), and English dts 5.1 (1536Kb/s). I was surprised by the lack of lack of inclusion of a stereo track - perhaps the mixdown to 2 channels is acceptable.

    Both tracks are in reality 4.1 tracks, with no information coming from the front centre channel. Almost all the music is carried by the front left and right channels. The surround channels are mostly used for audience clapping, and very faint murmurs acting as ambience. The subwoofer is lightly used to support the low frequencies.

    Both tracks sound quite similar. The dts track sounds a bit louder, and contains a bit more low level detail and ambience recovery, but the Dolby Digital track is quite acceptable, with no signs of harshness.

    The audio track has obviously been professionally recorded and mixed by Rob Eaton, who is also responsible for many of the band's albums.

    My main gripe with the audio tracks is that the mix sounds compressed, obviously to sound good on broadcast TV. This is unfortunate, since it robs the music of a lot of the "punch" that it deserves.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are no extras. The menus are 16x9 enhanced but static. I would have liked to see something - a discography, or band biography at the very least.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 and 4 versions of this title are identical apart from PAL/NTSC formatting.

Summary

    Speaking Of Now: Live is a concert DVD featuring the Pat Metheny Group performing songs from their latest album.

    The video transfer quality is acceptable.

    The audio transfer quality is acceptable.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Saturday, February 07, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDCustom HTPC (Asus A7N266-VM, Athlon XP 2400+, 512MB, LiteOn LTD-165S, WinXP, WinDVD5 Platinum), using RGB output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum/AVIA. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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