Pat Metheny Group-The Way Up: Live (HD DVD) (2005)
Menu Animation & Audio
|Year Of Production||2005|
|Running Time||68:59 (Case: 90)|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Steve Rodby|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Linear PCM 48/24 2.0
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Filmed live on the Asian leg of their six-month world tour in Seoul, Korea in April of 2005, Guitarist Pat Metheny and his band perform an hour of instrumental jazz from their recent album The Way Up. This composition is a long form piece, separated into four distinct parts that flow from one to the other. The band utilises an extraordinary array of instruments and do not shy away from electronic gadgetry, which is often the case with traditional jazz artists. If there's one thing that can be said for Pat Metheny and his band, they don't acknowledge any musical boundaries concerning digital effects, acoustic or electric instruments or even the most subtle percussion. The result is a bold musical art form, rich with harmonic textures and finely woven melodies.
The Way Up- Live doesn't even remotely resemble your average concert performance. The various band members move around the stage, shifting positions and changing instruments regularly. The performance has a decidedly dynamic feel about it as a result, which is a little surprising given the sometimes placid nature of the composition. Pat strikes me as the Buzz Osbourne of jazz- and not just in appearance. As guitarists, they share a familiar eccentricity and a playing style that is striking to watch.
The piece performed here was composed by Metheny and his long-time collaborator and keyboardist Lyle Mays. There is space within the composition for each member to take the spotlight in their own way, either by improvised solo or melodic interlude. Each of the seven members are consistently busy on stage and can often be seen holding more than one instrument at once. Even if one of the musicians has nothing to play in a particular sequence, they are active by adding percussion in some manner, be it shaking maracas or hitting a wood block.
I was also surprised to find this feature was directed and edited by bassist Steve Rodby. The flow of the editing matches the vibe of the music; as the emotional pace of the piece accelerates, so does the cutting between camera angles. A good number of cameras have been used, including one mounted on a dolly, and the production as a whole is very well done. If more live music is presented in this way, I'll be a very happy man!
The band members and their respective instruments are detailed below:
A veteran with over four decades of experience in the industry, Metheny was born into a musical family and began playing guitar from a very young age. Since his debut album of 1974, he has been at the forefront of guitar playing through the embracing of new technologies and techniques. His styles and compositions have ranged from jazz, to classical and rock and he has performed alongside artists as varying as Herbie Hancock and David Bowie. I was surprised to learn that the Pat Metheny Group has earned ten consecutive Grammies for their past ten albums. What an amazing achievement!
We watch a lot of music DVD's in my household, but I have to say I was particularly surprised by my kids' reaction to this performance. I was expecting them to find it a bit alien, but instead they seemed to 'get it' somehow. They are both very little, and it is possible they were simply reacting to the music's dynamic. They were very attentive, which is half the battle at times. Anyhow, as far as this band's vast back catalogue goes, I was previously most familiar with their Letter From Home album. The Way Up is a little more progressive in terms of instrumentation and is much more challenging for the listener, which is a good thing in my opinion. I can see this disc yielding great rewards with multiple viewings.
If you're interested in further reading, the Pat Metheny Group's Imaginary Day DVD-Audio disc was reviewed by my colleague ChristineT, here.
2. Part One
|3. Part Two|
4. Part Three
This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, which is the native framing for 1080i resolution. Eagle Vision have encoded this disc using the VC-1 codec, and while the transfer is not up to the full capabilities of the format, this is a superb image that looks magnificent on a big screen.
This video transfer is very sharp indeed, with glorious, fine detail to be found in thin guitar strings and textured clothing. Pat Metheny's signature Ibanez is featured in a lot of close-up shots, in which we can see many bumps and scratches on his guitar, and we can even clearly read the small writing in the fretboard's pearl inlay. There are even a few moments during the performance in which I could clearly read the time on some band member's wrist watches.
There is a great deal of movement; both of panning cameras and of musicians on stage, and I could not detect any annoying judder in the image. A number of handheld cameras were used to capture the performance, and these bring with them a couple of unstable moments, visually.
Some very slight jagged edges can be seen now and than, such as at 38:30 around the black piano keys. I can't be certain if this is due to my display's limited resolution (720p), or the progressive processing, but it is a very minor complaint. Shadow detail is great, in fact all corners of the stage are visible to some degree, even when minimal lighting is applied. I didn't detect any low level noise in the transfer.
Bright, heavily saturated colours are represented as a result of the stage lighting. The colours are very rich and lifelike, with absolutely no bleeding or noise to be seen.
Compression artefacting is completely absent. The usual suspects in live concert recordings such as soft lighting and fast motion are often problematic, but there are no issues here.
There are no English subtitle streams provided for the feature concert (there are no spoken words present), however the bonus interview does have a number of subtitle languages to choose from.
This is a dual layered HD DVD, however I did not notice any layer break during the feature.
There are three soundtracks accompanying this concert on DVD, the default of which is DTS HD Master Audio. There aren't any players capable of this audio format yet, however my HD-D1 is capable of processing the dts core stream. Other audio options of Dolby Digital Plus and PCM stereo can be selected from the setup menu or on the fly. I listened to the surround options in their entirety and sampled the PCM on a number of occasions.
The audio is fantastic, in fact it makes me wish I was capable of processing the lossless component of the dts audio. The surround mix is conservative in terms of rear channel activity, but the overall atmosphere is highly engaging. The audience's reactions and associated cheering is a little subdued in the mix, or maybe that is their quieter Korean temperament. As the music builds to an emotional peak you can hear the crowd responding appropriately, but they are never mixed so as to overpower the music, which is often the case in most live concert DVDs, I have found. The rear channels also provide some spill from the front channels, with a light, consistent droning of percussion instruments and cymbal taps. I didn't notice any dedicated panning of certain instruments to the rears, but as I said, the mix is very involving, regardless.
I didn't notice any audio sync issues in the slightest.
In comparing the three audio options, I found the PCM and Dolby Digital Plus soundtracks have been mastered at a slightly lower level, so I had to turn them up in order to gain the same effect as the dts audio. The PCM is good, but it lacks a little depth for my tastes. The dts quickly became my preferred, as it has superior separation of instruments and greater brightness in cymbals and the like. While the Dolby+ audio is perfectly okay, I found the warm guitar tones also seemed to fare better in the dts audio stream. It would be very interesting to hear the full dts HD stream processed properly, hopefully some time in the future.
The LFE channel is employed to add some nice, warm bottom end to the kick drum and bass guitars. Again, this is another area in which the dts audio stream seemed superior to my ears.
|Surround Channel Use|
This is a great little package. The HD DVD case is a thin Elite case and not the thicker Amaray style used by studios in Australia. There is colour artwork printed on the inside of the slick, but unfortunately this is obscured by the red tint of the case. The entire contents of this disc are presented in 1080i resolution.
Pat Metheny explains the touring/ recording cycle of the band and their intentions regarding the piece. He also discusses the group's progression throughout the years and the strengths of their current lineup of musicians. The Way Up was written over the course of six weeks and would have been a great challenge to perform live. Pat praises their Korean fans for their enthusiastic, responsive nature during the band's shows. Pat is a very interesting speaker who discusses his thoughts on the progression of music since the 1970s, and shares his opinions on why it is important for musicians to focus on the future rather than pay perpetual homage to the greats of the past.
A short biography is available for each of the seven band members, covering their musical studies and experience.
A colour insert with credits and artwork.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video transfer is excellent.
The audio transfer is highly involving.
The extras are worthwhile.
|DVD||Toshiba HD-D1, using HDMI output|
|Display||Sanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built into HD DVD Player, Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby TrueHD. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Orpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.|