George Benson-Absolutely Live (2000)

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Released 6-Aug-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Featurette-Making Of
Biographies-Cast-George Benson
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 89:12 (Case: 105)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (58:16) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Stanley Dorfman
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring George Benson
Joe Sample
Michael O'Neill
Dio Saucedo
Stanley Banks
David Witham
Thom Hall
Michael White
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $39.95 Music George Benson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    With a career spanning close to forty years, George Benson is justifiably acclaimed as one of the more popular jazz guitar players and singers of our times. Over his career, he has covered a diverse range of styles ranging from hard bop, soul jazz, R&B to easy listening/pop, based on a foundation of straight-ahead and contemporary jazz. Born in Pittsburgh, Benson's career had an early start when he sang in a nightclub when he was only eight years old. Early influences include Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery, but Benson was never a jazz purist and his accessible blend of jazz and pop eventually won him eight Grammy awards during his career.

    Absolutely Live is an edited video taken from a live concert featuring George Benson performing at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland on 27 May 2000. The concert features a sampling of some of his most popular songs, accompanied by three distinct groups of musicians:

    In addition, some songs feature special guest Joe Sample on the piano and electric piano.

   The concert starts with Big Band arrangements of three of his songs: All of Me, I Only Have Eyes For You and Beyond The Sea, featuring George Benson on vocals accompanied by the BBC Swing Orchestra. The audience at this stage is polite and appreciative. Beyond The Sea also features George on the guitar.

    There is then a short pause, followed by the return of George and his ensemble playing a selection of some of his most well-known jazz instrumental songs, including Deeper Than You Think, Hipping The Hop, Lately, and The Ghetto. George starts off by introducing Joe Sample, then settles into a set of instrumental guitar performances (apart from The Ghetto which also has George on the vocals) accompanied by his ensemble and Joe on the piano and electric piano. The members of his ensemble include Stanley Banks (Bass Guitar), Thomas Hall (Keyboards), Michael O'Neill (Guitar/Vocals), Dio Saucedo (Percussion/Vocals), and Michael White (Drums). The performances are first class and incredibly tight and smooth. I particularly enjoyed watching Stanley Banks' bopping head movements and Dio Saucedo's rippling muscles - now this guy has obviously been spending lots of time at the gym!

    The final segment of the concert features George with his ensemble (minus Joe) supplemented by members of the Ulster Symphony Orchestra with David Witham on the piano and as Musical Director. In Your Eyes is a nice romantic ballad featuring George on vocals. The strings provide a nice silky wrapping around Moody's Mood. In his own solo guitar arrangement of Danny Boy, George starts by playing the guitar with an unusual fingering and picking technique that's designed to make the guitar sound a bit like bagpipes. I found this absolutely incredible and amazing, I've never seen or heard anything like it.

    The tempo and the mood of the songs get increasingly upbeat as the concert progresses - and the audience also get increasingly boisterous in their appreciation. By the time George starts singing Turn Your Love Around, a section of the audience (mostly female) has migrated to the front of the stage and are jivin' and boppin' along to the music. A lot of the female fans seem to want to reach out and hold his hand, whilst others are really groovin' along and one particularly enthusiastic female even managed to get on stage to dance alongside George!

    Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this concert. My only complaint was that that it was too short at 89:12 minutes - George could have easily filled another hour with great songs. By the way, the cover advertises the running time as "105 minutes approx" - I suspect they are including the featurette in the running time.

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Track Listing

1. All Of Me
2. I Only Have Eyes For You
3. Beyond The Sea
4. Deeper Than You Think
5. Hipping The Hop
6. Lately
7. The Ghetto
8. In Your Eyes
9. Moody's Mood
10. Danny Boy
11. This Masquerade
12. Breezin'
13. Love x Love
14. Turn Your Love Around
15. Never Give Up On A Good Thing
16. Give Me The Night
17. On Broadway

Transfer Quality

Video

    I suspect this concert may have been directly recorded onto Digital Video, for broadcast on UK digital TV, as the video transfer is in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with 16x9 enhancement. In any case, this is a superlative reference quality transfer that is a delight to watch.

    It is incredibly sharp with a "you're there" kind of realistic look with brilliant, natural colours. At one stage I almost wanted to reach out and shove a female fan blocking the view out of the way. The deep natural-looking blacks and high shadow detail will make owners of LCD projectors grin - no murky greys in this transfer! It is a great demo disc and showcase for the quality of even standard definition digital TV.

    There are virtually no artefacts in this transfer, apart from very occasional very low level video noise, slight aliasing and rare instances of low level Gibbs effect. Surprisingly, despite the bright stage lights, there is no evidence of posterization whatsoever.

    There are no subtitles on this disc.

    This is a single sided dual layer disc (RSDL) - unfortunately the video stream does not include time marks - which means my DVD player will not display chapter numbers, running time nor time left. As far as I can tell, the layer change occurs at 58:16 (based on WinDVD's time counter on a PC) - fortunately this occurs during a pause in the concert as George goes backstage to take off his jacket so it is not noticeable at all.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks on this disc: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kb/s), and DTS 5.1. I listened to the DTS audio track in its entirety, plus I listened to various songs switching between the Dolby Digital and DTS tracks.

    Although I suspect this may have been originally a stereo track processed into 5.1 surround (as the audience noises are more forward-sourced as opposed to enveloping) it is very pleasant nevertheless. The quality of the DTS track is very high and the music sounds very natural. It almost felt like the musicians were right there in the living room.

    In comparison, the Dolby Digital 5.1 track sounds louder because dialogue normalization has been set to +4 dB. Nevertheless, both tracks are equally good, and it's difficult for me to recommend one over the other. The Dolby Digital track sounds "crisper" with more extreme high frequency content. The DTS sounds duller in comparison, but makes up for it by having a more natural and stable soundstage.

    George Benson's dialogue and commentary in between songs was quite clear and easy to understand, and there are no audio synchronisation issues.

    The rear surround and centre speakers were primarily limited to ambience and audience noises, although there are occasional instances of instrument sounds spilling into rear speakers (another clue that this may have been a surround-processed stereo track). The centre channel seems to be mainly reserved for ambience rather than vocals.

    There is subwoofer activity, but in general this is not a bass-heavy audio track so the subwoofer is only lightly exercised.

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

Extras

    This music DVD comes with a reasonable collection of extras which are quite pleasing.

Menu

    The menus are 16x9 enhanced, and feature animation and background audio.

Featurette-Making Of (16:14)

    This is a fairly substantial documentary (entitled The Making of George Benson Absolutely Live) presented in 1.78:1 without 16x9 enhancement.

    It features interviews with

    In addition, there are excerpts from the live concert as well as from rehearsals, scenes around Belfast, and a sneak peek into George's home studio in New Jersey.

Biographies-Cast-George Benson

    This is a set of three stills containing a very brief biography of George Benson.

Gallery-Photo

    This contains a set of six stills featuring black and white and colour photos of George Benson taken during the concert.

R4 vs R1

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

    There are two Region 1 versions of this title - a Dolby Digital version and a DTS version. The Region 4 version of this disc combines both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio tracks at the expense of missing out on the Linear PCM audio track. Other features and extras appear to be the same.

    I would have liked to hear what the Linear PCM audio track would have sounded like, particularly since it is transferred at higher than CD quality format: 48 kHz 24 bits. However, I have no complaints about the quality of either the Dolby Digital or DTS track.

Summary

    Geoge Benson - Absolutely Live is a great concert from a great performer presented on a DVD with great (reference quality) audio and video transfers. The extras are nice, including a good documentary. My only complaint is that I wish the concert was longer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Monday, August 06, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3300
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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