James Morrison-Scream Machine: Live at The Basement (2001)

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

Released 29-Jul-2002

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Featurette
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 87:31 (Case: 106)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (42:36) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Kyle Crossling
Ross Wood

Warner Vision
Starring James Morrison
David Jones
Evripede Evripidou
Peter Zografakis
David Newdick
Paul Panichi
Ralph Pyl
Paul Thorne
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music James Morrison

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 None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, product acknowledgments in end credits
Action In or After Credits Yes, end credits over video

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

Plot Synopsis

    James Morrison is probably Australia's most famous jazz multi-instrumentalist, and the closest to superstardom. Over the years I have been privileged to see him in various live performances. Born in 1962 in Boorowa, he did his apprenticeship with the Don Burrows band and has both graduated from and taught at the NSW Conservatorium of Music. He has performed all over the world with some of the best known names in jazz and lately has started his own record label (Morrison Records) along with his brother John.

    This DVD contains a concert recorded at The Basement nightclub in 10 October 2001 and released as part of the "Live at the Basement" DVD series. The feature is entitled "Scream Machine" after his latest album and features James mainly playing his favourite instrument - the trumpet. Obviously believing that one can never have too much of a good thing, he has assembled four other trumpet players into a band consisting of:

    So, how do five trumpeters plus backing guitars and drums sound? Pretty loud and forceful, as you might expect. The opening track, Scream Machine, is appropriately named and features all five trumpeters plus additional musicians in fine form. James plays almost all the songs from his album of the same name (Scream Machine), apart from The Enforcer. The second song, Chameleon, was written by jazz keyboardist Herbie Hancock and sounds appropriately funky. Then we have a "medley" of two songs - one a James Morrison original called Desert Sands and the other the well-known Duke Ellington song Caravan - there was some debate on stage whether two songs were enough to constitute a medley.

    James is relaxed, friendly and chatty as usual in between songs and even started cracking drummer jokes which apparently he collects (he has a number of them on his website) - he then apologises to his drummer and said none of them apply to David Jones because David is actually a "percussionist." :-)

    Ease On In features James on a "digital trumpet" (this is an Akai EVI1000 MIDI controller with controls similar to but not identical to a normal trumpet plus a number of interesting extras such as octave shifting). James takes the trouble to give an explanation of how the instrument works prior to the song. James also talks about a new digital trumpet that he will play in the future which he had a hand in designing.

    Froot features James on a portable electric organ and an extended/exhilarating guitar solo from Peter Zografakis. Con Alma is a nice sounding ballad written by Dizzy Gillespie and features a quartet consisting of James plus electric and bass guitars plus drums.

    Fugue II is a pseudo Baroque piece that didn't sound much like a fugue to me. Incidentally, James plays a "Baroque" or piccolo trumpet on this one, and there is an amusing anecdote where James recalls how the played it with valves 1 and 3 transposed for the the first six years and did not even realise it.

    The closing song, Up Late, is a rousing end to the concert.

    Overall, this concert should please James Morrison fans. I would prefer more ballads but then life would be boring if everything always stays the same.

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

Track Listing

1. Scream Machine
2. Chameleon
3. Desert Sands
4. Caravan
5. Ease On In
6. Froot
7. Con Alma
8. Fugue II
9. Up Late

Transfer Quality


    The concert is presented in a full frame (1.33:1) aspect ratio, except for the opening credits which appear to be in approximately 1.75:1.

    Overall the transfer is pretty decent given the less than optimal (dimly lit) conditions at the cramped venue. Colours were highly saturated and black levels were good. Detail levels are about average.

    Video artefacts are seldom seen and limited to the usual aliasing visible on vibrating guitar strings due to the interlaced source material. MPEG compression artefacts include Gibb's effect ringing and minor pixelization, usually visible on the cymbals when switching to the camera shooting from behind David Jones. There is an absence of low level video noise, so I suspect the video may be digitally enhanced.

    There are no subtitle tracks on this single sided double layered disc (RSDL). The layer change occurs at 42:36 and is quite well executed for a concert as it occurs during a camera angle switch in between songs.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is only one audio track on this disc: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kb/s).

    In contrast to some of the other titles from the "Live From The Basement" DVD series, the audio quality appears to be slightly below par, although I can't quite describe why. Perhaps I was expecting too much (I have recently been listening to a lot of Super Audio CDs), but the audio seems slightly insubstantial and perhaps a bit harsh.

    The 5.1 audio mix sounds quite pleasant and I can definitely discern audience noises coming from the rears but in general the rear speakers are mainly used for ambience.

    The subwoofer channel does not appear to be used since my subwoofer remained turned off throughout the entire concert.

    The stage banter in between songs was very clear and easy to understand, apart from a few seconds between 69:12-69:25 where James puts away his microphone just prior to playing Fugue II - he utters a few sentences that sound very faint and are only just decipherable. I did not notice any issues with audio synchronization.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There is only one extra on this disc - a featurette.


    The menus are full frame and static.

Featurette - Documentary (19:06)

    This is an edited interview with James Morrison, taken from his studio and also sailing on James' yacht on the Harbour. James talks about various things including the concept of a trumpet-focused album, how the album was named (suggestions from readers of James' web site), his new digital trumpet, and so forth. In between are excerpts from the concert and a demonstration of James mixing a track from the album on his console.

R4 vs R1

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

    This title is currently only released in Region 4, although it is not region encoded.


    James Morrison - Scream Machine: Live At The Basement features no less than five trumpeters including James blasting their way through most of the songs from James Morrison's album Scream Machine. The selection includes renditions of well known jazz songs as well as Morrison originals. Captured live at the Basement night club, the video and audio transfers are okay but are nothing to trumpet about (sorry!). The disc also includes a documentary.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Sunday, July 28, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3300
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

Other Reviews
DVD Plaza - Colin H
DVD Net - Tony L
The DVD Bits - Damien M

Comments (Add)
I heard the new digital trumpet tonight..... - Alex H (My biography...in 500 words or less!)