Charles Mingus-Live at Montreux 1975 (1975)

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Released 6-Nov-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Menu Animation & Audio
Booklet
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 1975
Running Time 85:32
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (24:48) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor
Eagle Eye Media
Rajon Vision
Starring Charles Mingus
Gerry Mulligan
Benny Bailey
Don Pullen
Dannie Richmond
George Adams
Jack Walrath
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Charles Mingus


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Charles Mingus is generally regarded as one of the greats of modern jazz. He was a great bass player and a consummate composer and arranger of challenging and political jazz pieces, many of which are justifiably famous in their own right. His career spans from the early 1950s up until his death in 1979 from a rare nerve disorder. During that time he recorded many classic albums including Mingus Ah Um, The Black Saint and the Sinner LadyChanges One & Two. His influence on modern and avant-garde jazz is huge and there is still a major jazz orchestra touring the world named after him, The Mingus Big Band, who I recently saw here in Sydney at The Opera House. They are a great jazz group but they are a mere shadow of the man himself.

    Four years before his death in 1979, Mingus made his first appearance at The Montreux Jazz Festival on the Today & Tomorrow bill, which constituted the last night of the festival on 20 July 1975. The line-up that night also included Anthony Braxton, Bill Evans & Andrew Hill, a great line up headed by Mingus and his band. His band was made up of the players who had recently recorded the two Changes albums mentioned above with him, and it is obvious from the performance that they had been playing together for some time. The band includes:

    The band for this show is stunningly good, especially on the first three tracks before being joined by Gerry Mulligan & Benny Bailey. The first three tracks come from the Changes albums mentioned above and are quite avant-garde but in an accessible way. The piano player especially caught my eye and ear, playing some fantastic stuff with great innovation and improvisation. However, this statement should not be taken in any way as a criticism of the rest of the band - all play with great fire and passion. On some tracks vocals are also performed by the sax player, although to be honest, I was less impressed by his singing than his sax playing. The best track is probably the extended jam on Sue's Changes which lasts for over half an hour.

    With the arrival of Mulligan & Bailey, the playing is less avant-garde although still of high quality as the band do versions of two jazz standards, one by Mingus himself and one by Billy Strayhorn. The full track listing can be seen below.

    The material included here was recorded by Swiss television and seems to have been presented as three separate television shows, despite being from the same concert. After track two there are credits and then again after track three and track five.

    As I write this review I am enjoying one of Mingus' earlier albums, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus from 1963. If you have never heard Mingus' work and enjoy Jazz, do yourself a favour and check out some of his work. If you are already a fan of the man's work, this disc is essential.

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Track Listing

1. Devil Blues
2. Free Cell Block F, 'Tis Nazi USA
3. Sue's changes
4. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat
5. Take the 'A' Train

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is very good considering the age and source of the material involved. The video of the first  three tracks seems to have been better treated and stored over the years as the video quality on these is quite a bit better.

    The concert is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio non 16x9 enhanced which is most likely the original aspect ratio. The bitrate is very high throughout.

    The picture was surprisingly clear and sharp during the first three songs considering the age and probably video source, with no evidence of low level noise. There was sometimes a little light grain in backgrounds. The last two songs were softer but still reasonable for their age.

    The colour was pretty good considering the age of the source material, however there was some mild chroma noise in reds and flaring and comet trails due to the stage lights. During the last two songs the colour was significantly duller than the first three tracks and included more bleeding and some cross colourisation.

    The most obvious artefact was regular microphony which was not generally severe but was prevalent. There were two patches where it was worst; at 32:00 & 54:00. There was also a light green line on the right of screen at 18:20 and some minor tape tracking errors such as at 33:50, 47:0055:40. There was a jump at 76:03.

    There are no subtitles which considering the nearly complete lack of dialogue is not a major issue.

    The layer change occurs at 24:48 between tracks.
    

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

Audio

    The audio quality is very good especially considering the age of the recording.

    This DVD contains three audio options, a Linear PCM 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 1536 Kb/s, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s and a DTS 5.1 track encoded at 768 Kb/s. My preference was for the DTS track due to its greater presence and enhanced bass, however all three choices are of good quality. There was also some mild hiss audible in quiet spots such as between songs.

    The music sounds wonderful with excellent separation of instruments and good clarity considering the presumably mono source. The only slight criticism of the sound would be that the tenor sax player, George Adams, seems to have been undermiked during the original performance which is of course not a DVD transfer issue. Sometimes he sounds further away than other instruments.

    The surround speakers added atmosphere and some crowd noise.

    The subwoofer added significant bass especially on the DTS track which considering that the band leader is a bass player meant that his work stood out nicely.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu included an intro, music, and the ability to select songs and audio.

Booklet

    A booklet is included with photos, an essay on Mingus and this specific concert and a copy of the festival poster for 1975.

R4 vs R1

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

    This is disc is Region 4 encoded (despite the box saying it's Region 0) and the only difference between this and the US release is PAL/NTSC formatting.

Summary

    A wonderful concert recording from a jazz great before illness lead to his decline.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The only extra is a booklet.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Friday, February 17, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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