Jazz Icons-John Coltrane: Live in '60, '61 & '65 (1960) (NTSC)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Due Out for Sale 1-Sep-2007

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Menu Animation & Audio
Booklet
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 1960
Running Time 96:13 (Case: 95)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (57:10) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor
Jazz Icons
Select Audio-Visual Distrib
Starring John Coltrane
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music None Given


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 mono (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, more jazz footage

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

Plot Synopsis

    Although the answer to the question will be obvious to Jazz fans, I will address it to anyone else who has read this far. Can you imagine the possibility that a version of My Favourite Things from The Sound of Music could be amazing and mind blowing? Well there are two such versions contained within the 11 tracks on this DVD. John Coltrane, one of the greatest sax players in the history of Jazz recorded it in the 1960s for an album of the same name and it quickly became a favourite of his and his fans. The performances contained within this disc were all recorded for European television between 1960 and 1965 which is lucky because very little footage of Coltrane playing live is available, in fact this is the first footage I have seen.

    This disc is one of a series of 7 discs which have been released locally by Select called the Jazz Icons series. They are also available as a box set with an extra eighth disc. The other 6 feature Charles Mingus, Dexter Gordon, Dave Brubeck, Sarah Vaughan, Wes Montgomery & Duke Ellington. Interestingly, a previous series of these discs was released in other countries but not here in Australia. It is great to see classic Jazz performances being released locally on DVD. I recently reviewed another example called  Norman Granz presents: Improvisation.

    The disc contains three quite different performances, from three distinct eras of Coltrane's career, which ended abruptly with his death in 1967. The first performance was recorded on March 28 1960 in Dusseldorf, West Germany. At this stage of his career Coltrane was still part of Miles Davis' group and was on tour with Miles, Oscar Petersen and Stan Getz in Europe. Miles decided he did not want to do this date for German television and so Coltrane led Davis' group for three songs and was then joined by Stan Getz and later on the fifth track by Oscar Petersen. There is some fine music here, however, the later shows are the highlight. Unfortunately, the television studio has been quite dimly lit and quite often very little can be seen in the shadowy studio.

    The second set is from December 1961 (this time in Baden-Baden, West Germany) and the progress in Coltrane's playing is quite incredible. He is now leading his own hand-picked group featuring Eric Dolphy on flute and Sax, McCoy Tyner on piano, Reggie Workman on bass and Elvin Jones on drums. They kick off with the first wonderful version of the song I mentioned at the beginning of this review. This time the studio is better lit but features a fairly bizarre industrial metallic set which the director seems determined to hide the cameras behind. The music is of the highest quality.

    The third and last set is much later in Coltrane's career when his personal style is much more developed. It was recorded in Belgium in August 1965 and features his most famous band being McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums. This time a long 'freak-out' version of My Favourite Things closes the show and it is stunning, featuring some wonderful playing by the whole band and especially Coltrane himself. Once again the music quality is excellent.

    Jazz fans should definitely give this disc a look as it contains some very rare footage of a giant of Jazz in three very different settings. Highly recommended.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Track Listing

1. On Green Dolphin Street
2. Walkin'
3. The Theme
4. Autumn Leaves/What's New/Moonlight
5. Hackensack
6. My Favorite Things
7. Ev'rytime We Say Goodbye
8. Impressions
9. Vigil
10. Naima
11. My Favorite Things

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is very ordinary which I suppose is not unexpected considering the source.

    The feature is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, non-16x9 enhanced, which I would guess is the original aspect ratio. All three recordings are black & white and NTSC.

    The picture was fairly soft throughout, with some low level noise (especially in the 1965 show). The 1961 show is probably the best of the video quality as it is the cleanest but none of them seem to have been overtly restored. The 1960 show is very dark, has poor shadow detail and moire, edge enhancement, black blobs, aliasing, minor tape tracking errors and lots of grain. The 1961 show is better but still has some blobs and is grainy. The third is the worst despite being the newest. It has lots of bad tape tracking, blobs, white lines, jumps, flashes of white, flaring, aliasing and other similar artefacts.

    There are no subtitles, but since no-one says anything it is really inconsequential.

    The layer change occurs at 57:10 and is not noticeable.
    

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

Audio

    The audio quality is thankfully significantly better than the video.

    This DVD contains a Linear PCM 2.0 mono soundtrack encoded at 1536 Kb/s.

    The music sounds pretty good considering the source, with clear instrument delineation and a nice warmth. I did not notice any terrible drop outs or distortion issues. As good as you can expect for television studio recordings from the 1960s.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu design is simple allowing for playing each show separately or all together. It features music and footage from the shows.

Booklet

    A comprehensive booklet is included which features many photos, details of players and recording time and places plus a lengthy essay about Coltrane, these shows and the tours they formed a part of. Worth a read.

R4 vs R1

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

    This release is the same globally.

Summary

    A fascinating collection of rare live footage of John Coltrane across three phases of his career. A must see for fans.

    The video quality is poor.

    The audio quality is quite good.

    A booklet is included.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Thursday, November 08, 2007
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
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Yamaha YST SW90 subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE