Soul Conversation-The Jazz Channel Presents (2000)

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Released 19-Mar-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Biographies-Cast
Featurette-Meet The Artist
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 63:25
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Waymer Johnson
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Mark Whitfield
JK
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $39.95 Music Soul Conversation


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English dts 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles French
German
Italian
Swedish
Norwegian
Spanish
Portuguese
Danish
Dutch
Finnish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, titles over last song

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Jazz Channel Presents: Soul Conversation is another in a series of TV specials featuring concerts by black musicians produced by BET on Jazz.

    Soul Conversation is a collaboration between two jazz guitarists: Mark Whitfield and JK. Mark released his first album when he was 23, after studying at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. JK is the son of French mime Claude Kipnis. He moved to New York at the age of 11 from Paris. Initially self-taught, he also studied jazz for a while at the University of Miami and was a session player for a number of years. The result of the partnership: electro retro funk grooves to acoustic ballads, with some progressive R&B and smooth jazz thrown in.

    In this concert, Mark and JK are backed by four other musicians. All the songs played in the concert are instrumental jazz performances - there are no vocals.

    I was really hoping to enjoy this disc, as this is the first "Jazz Channel Presents" disc that seemed to feature music that I would regard as jazz, i.e. full of improvisations and riffs. Mark and JK are obviously good guitarists, but the music is just a trifle predictable for me (I can tell when a riff is coming and also in which direction it is likely to go) and almost descends into the sort of muzak inhabited by the likes of Acoustic Alchemy (if you haven't not heard of Acoustic Alchemy, let me give you a hint: airlines love to schedule their songs as part of "in-flight entertainment"). Is it my imagination, or is the audience in the BET Studio a little bit more sparse compared to the other discs in the series?

    My favourite track of the lot is Reflections of You, a moderately listenable ballad. Miami Sunset features a pretty groovy electric piano solo and On The Edge has a good saxophone solo. In fact, Mark and JK looks like they might be in danger of being overshadowed by their backing musicians! The last track In The Backseat has a bit of a blues feel about it. All in all, it's a pretty short concert - just barely over an hour.

    The publicity machines will no doubt try and convince you that Soul Conversation are guitar legends in the making. Trust me, not only are the conversations between Mark and JK pretty patchy, but the music can be pretty soulless at times. The end titles are superimposed towards the end of the last track, but in this case I don't care.

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Track Listing

1. Whatever It Takes
2. Hand To Mouth
3. Talk To Me
4. Reflections Of You
5. Miami Sunset
6. On The Edge
7. In The Backseat

Transfer Quality

Video

    Given that this originated as a TV special, the transfer is presented in a full frame aspect ratio and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    In general, the transfer seems reasonably clean, with sharpness, detail and shadow detail about typical for a video source.

    Colour saturation was good, but I thought a bit over-saturated at times.

    There are occasional aliasing and shimmering and moiré patterns, particularly around the guitar strings of Mark's acoustic guitar. I suspect that this transfer has been upconverted from NTSC to PAL. Fortunately the video source appears fairly clean and the transfer is devoid of MPEG artefacts.

    Surprisingly, this DVD actually comes with several subtitle tracks. I turned on the Italian subtitle track just for fun, and was rewarded with: nothing. Well, what did I expect? All the performances are instrumental, and Mark and JK don't even utter a single squeak during the whole concert, so there was nothing to translate!

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

Audio

    This DVD has three audio tracks: Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448Kb/s, DTS 5.1 (unknown bitrate) and Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224Kb/s. I listened mostly to the DTS 5.1 soundtrack in its entirety, but switched briefly to the Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 tracks.

    The DTS track is actually more like a 4.0 track since the centre channel was not engaged during the entire concert. The soundstage is very front-focused, with the rear surround speakers mainly carrying ambient information. The original audio source must have been in stereo and then remixed into 5.1. In cases like this, I would have preferred it if they just gave us the original stereo track as a PCM audio track for maximum quality.

    The Dolby Digital track also sounded very good, but was mastered at a much higher level (the Dialog Normalization parameter has been set to +4 dB). It seemed a little bit "harder edged" than the DTS track, but suits the type of music nicely. In fact I think I may even prefer the Dolby Digital 5.1 track over the DTS track (I think I'm already starting to hear cries of "Heresy!" from home theatre enthusiasts!) The Dolby Digital 2.0 track, in comparison to the 5.1 tracks has a rather flat sound, a collapsed soundstage, and has been mastered at a much lower level.

    I did not detect any audio glitches or synchronization issues.

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

Extras

    The extras here are pretty minimal, limited to an interview featurette and a biographical still.

Menu

    The menus are reasonably pleasing and seems to be relatively free of MPEG artefacts, unlike some DVDs I've seen. They are in full frame format and are static.

Biography - Mark Whitfield

    This is a single still providing a brief biography of Mark.

Featurette - "Meet the Artist" (17:20)

    This is a brief interview with Mark Whitfield and JK. Only one of them talks at any given time, in a small "window" over a background consisting of excerpts from the concert footage. Mark talks about the genesis of Soul Conversation and the concept of it being a dialogue between two guitarists of different styles. JK talks about how he met Mark and started collaborating with him. Both of them also sing the praises of each other, and reveal early influences and heroes.

    This featurette has three audio tracks but they all appear to be identical (Dolby Digital 2.0). Surprisingly, the featurette comes with a number of foreign language subtitle tracks. Given that there are quite lengthy periods in which no one talks (and the little "window" disappears), I suspect this is a short 5-10 minute interview that has been stretched through the incorporation of excerpts from the concert performance.

R4 vs R1

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

    There appears to be no significant differences between the R1 and R4 versions of this disc.

Summary

    The Jazz Channel Presents: Soul Conversation featuring Mark Whitfield and JK is a listenable if somewhat predictable instrumental jazz concert featuring two guitarists. It is presented on a DVD with an above average video and audio transfer. The extras are nothing special, but are welcomed anyway.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Sunday, April 01, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (203cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3300
SpeakersFront left/right: B&W DM603; centre: B&W CC6S2, rear left/right: B&W DM601

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