Chett Baker-Live at Ronnie Scott's (2002)

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

Released 14-May-2002

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Informational Subtitles-Trivia Track
Discography
Notes-Umbrella Propaganda
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 58:45
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Stephen Cleary
Robert Lemkin
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Chet Baker
Elvis Costello
Van Morrison
Michel Graillier
Ricardo Del Fra
Case Click
RPI $29.95 Music Various


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

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

Plot Synopsis

    Melancholy and tired - those three words sum up my feelings having just sat through Chett Baker - Live at Ronnie Scott's. Renowned jazz trumpeter Chett Baker shot to fame in the early sixties, having successfully auditioned to play with Charlie Parker in 1952, with his soulful renditions of jazz classics such as My Ideal and I'm a Fool to Want You. Unfortunately, his career was racked by the turmoils of sustaining a hard drug habit which saw his front teeth knocked out in the early seventies, a short jail term and which was associated with his fatal fall from an Amsterdam hotel window in 1988.

    Credited with being his last performance, this short set was filmed at Ronnie Scott's jazz club in 1986 as a trio with pianist Michel Graillier and double bass player Riccardo del Fra and guest appearances by Van Morrison who sang the vocals on Send in the Clowns and Elvis Costello who sang his rendition of The Very Thought of You and You Don't Know What Love Is. Chett Baker sat on his stool, looked tired and reminiscent and accompanied the talented piano/bass duo with a sensitive trumpet, faltering vocals and an occasional teary eye.

    The performance fired up temporarily for If I Should Love You, with a glimpse of the glory of bygone days, but for the most part the performance stood as a requiem for better times. Even the young audience seemed to sense that this was the swan song of, and farewell to, the deeply creased face rendered in punishing detail by the video camera close-ups. The backing duo was very competent and Elvis Costello was in fine singing form but Van Morrison got off to a very shaky start, his lack of confidence hallmarked by the song lyric sheet he needed to refer to to get through the performance. About 20% of the tape was taken up with an interview with Baker reminiscing on the ups and downs of his life and sadly remarking on the almost total dearth of classical jazz and venues in the US. Needless to say, the interview was about as animated as the performance.

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

Track Listing

1. Ellen David
2. Just Friends
3. Shifting Down
4. Send In The Clowns
5. If I Should Lose You
6. My Ideal
7. Love For Sale
8. The Very Thought of You
9. You Don't Know What Love Is
10. I'm A Fool To Want You

Transfer Quality

Video

    The feature was shot on video in 1986, probably for TV and doesn't enlarge up well onto the larger screen.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The focus is soft as is often the case with NTSC video transfers and the 80s model video cameras don't fare too well under the club's subdued lighting. Shadow detail is limited and there is low level noise and graininess in the shadows throughout the feature.

    Colours were subdued, as befitting the sombre occasion, and skin tones were rather washed-out under the spotlight. The remainder of the set was a murky blend of pinks, greens and greys.

    The video editing was well done, though too much time was spent on close-ups of the creased features and stubble of Baker and Van Morrison. There was minimal aliasing and no MPEG artefacts of note.

    Subtitles took the form of notes on the songs and players rather than transcriptions of the spoken word.

    The disc is single sided and single layered (a DVD-5) and consequently there is no layer transition point.

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

Audio

    The single audio track is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 which would seem somewhat of an overkill for an acoustic trio and an audience who were either stoned or had fallen asleep with their eyes open. Nevertheless, the sound is delivered with surprisingly good quality and depth of sound although the audible hiss belies its analogue origins and there was a crackle at 2:31.

    The dialogue was clear and the lyrics easy to discern. Audio and lip sync were satisfactory.

    The surrounds were barely used with just a hint of reverberation and expected audience applause.

    The subwoofer was effectively used to round out the double bass and enhanced the listening experience.

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

Extras

    Well, this bit's quick - there weren't any of note!

Menu

   Static selection in 4:3 enabling random or sequential play with or without screen notes

Discography

    Chett's recording career, spanning 1952 to 1986.

Umbrella Propaganda

    Picture of three slicks for Umbrella jazz releases.

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 Region 4 releases appear identical.

Summary

    I'm not really sure why this disc was released 14 years after Chett Baker's death other than for archival purposes. It certainly records the last chapter of a distinguished, yet tragic, musician. Although suitable material is likely to be thin on the ground, it would have been better to find a recording of Chett in his prime.

    The video is of sub-standard quality.

    The audio quality is quite good.

    The extras are just about non-existent and considering that this DVD is more a tribute than entertainment, a biography or more film footage would have been good.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Lancaster (read my bio)
Thursday, June 06, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-900E, using RGB output
DisplayPioneer SD-T50W1 (127cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderDenon ACV-A1SE. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTheta Digital Intrepid
SpeakersML Aeon front. B&W LRC6 Centre. ML Script rear. REL Strata III SW.

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Adrian T

Comments (Add)
William Barnard Rhodes-Moorhouse RFC VC -