Ritenour, Lee and Friends-Live from the Cocoanut Grove-Volumes I and II (1990)

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Released 10-Sep-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Biographies-Cast-Lee Ritenour
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1990
Running Time 117:34 (Case: 120)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Stanley Dorfman
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Lee Ritenour
Bob James
Tuck and Patti
Joao Bosco
Steve Lukather
Phil Perry
Kate Markowitz
Ernie Watts
Harvey Mason
Paulinho da Costa
Anthony Jackson
Brian Bromberg
Alan Broadbent
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI $39.95 Music Lee Ritenour


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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 No
Action In or After Credits Yes, end titles over audience applause

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

Plot Synopsis

    Lee Ritenour & Friends - Live from the Cocoanut Grove was originally released as two laserdiscs (Volumes 1 & 2) in 1990. Both volumes have been combined into a single DVD disc. I presume the Cocoanut Grove must be some sort of jazz club. Lee plays a selection of very easy listening "smooth" or contemporary jazz songs/instrumentals accompanied by some "friends" (guest artists), including Phil Perry, Harvey Mason, Joao Bosco, Paulinho da Costa, Steve Lukather, Bob James, Tuck and Patti.

    Lee (Mack) Ritenour studied guitar at the University of Southern California and also took private lessons with Joe Pass, Howard Roberts, Duke Miller and Christopher Parkening. Ritenour succeeded Jack Marshall at the University of Southern California school of music as guitar instructor at the age of 21 after Marshall's death.

    In 1974 he joined Sergio Mendes and Brasil '77 and toured extensively before becoming session or "studio" guitarist. He has recorded with hundreds of leading jazz musicians including Dave Grusin, Herbie Hancock, Oliver Nelson, Sonny Rollins, Gato Barbieri, George Benson, Earl Klugh and Tom Scott, and has accompanied singers such as Peggy Lee, Aretha Franklin, Barbara Streisand, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and Johnny Mathis.

    Specialising in contemporary and fusion jazz with a distinct Latin or Brazilian influence, Lee has a successful career (with over 25 solo albums and numerous awards to his credit) and is a member of a jazz band called Fourplay which blends pop, rock, jazz, funk, R&B and classical elements.

    Maybe it's because of his many years as a studio musician, or maybe its his innate personality, but Lee has a very easy-going, unassuming and modest stage personality. This is certainly a refreshing change from the usual over-inflated egos and larger-than-life stage "presence" that many musicians adopt. Lee concentrates on playing the music and seems to having a really good time, and doesn't mind sharing the spotlight with his "friends" and fellow musicians.

    Lee exhibits a dazzling and diverse array of guitar playing techniques on this disc, ranging from finger picking to strumming with the right hand and traditional fingering, harmonics and steel sliding with the left hand. The musical styles, too, range from neo-classical to blistering quasi-metal solos. All-in-all, the performances are a tour-de-force of Lee's background in guitar school and experience as a session musician.

    The first four songs on Volume 1 are typically "smooth" or "fusion" guitar jazz, with Up-Town being distinctly more up-beat than the others. Phil Perry is the guest artist doing vocals on Harlequin and Malibu. The next four songs have a distinctly Brazilian or Latin feel about them, and feature Joao Bosco on guitar and vocals and Paulinho da Costa on percussion. Etude in particular features Paulinho performing on a bewildering variety of percussion instruments. Volume 1 ends with Steve Lukather engaging in a guitar duo with Lee on two songs that are more rock and pop inspired than jazzy.

    Volume 2, which appears to have been recorded on a different night to Volume 1, starts with two fusion jazz numbers again, this time featuring Ernie Watts on the saxophone. Then we have three songs featuring Tuck and Patti. Tuck (I think) is the guitarist and Patti therefore must be the female singer. The next two songs feature acclaimed jazz pianist Bob James and finally we get to see Paulinho da Costa again in a song appropriately named Bahia Funk.

    All in all, I think this is a concert well worth watching if you are a fusion or contemporary jazz aficionado, and the performances have not dated at all.

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Track Listing

1. Night Rhythms
2. Harlequin
3. Malibu
4. Up-Town
5. Preta Porte De Tafeta
6. Odile, Odila
7. Latin Lovers
8. Etude
9. Cause We've Ended As Lovers
10. Asa
11. 24th Street Blues
12. Stolen Moments
13. Love Is The Key
14. Better Than Anything
15. Everything's Gonna Be Alright
16. Restoration
17. Westchester Lady
18. Bahia Funk

Transfer Quality

Video

    This set of concerts look like they have been recorded directly onto composite NTSC video, which have then been upconverted to PAL on the DVD. Needless to say, the transfer is in full-frame (1.33:1) and not 16x9 enhanced.

    The composite signal recorded on video tape exhibits significant deterioration, and the lack of quality manifests itself in well below average sharpness and detail levels and very poor black levels. Colour saturation is problematic as well, with colours ranging from under-saturation to blooming.

    The age and composite nature of the video source also result in several source artefacts such as colour bleeding. The NTSC to PAL conversion has resulted in the typical shimmering or aliasing artefacts in various spots. For some reason, the video fades into a badly pixelated still of Lee with Tuck and Patti around 28:53-28:57 into Volume 2 - I suspect this was done in the editing stage to cover a drop-out in the video source or some other mishap.

    According to my DVD player, the disc has English subtitles but when I enabled this I did not see any subtitles so I presume this is a blank subtitle track. The disc is single sided and single layered.

    Unfortunately, this is yet another one of those DVDs that do not encode chapter timings into the video stream so my DVD player was unable to provide running and total time information. As near as I can tell, Volume 1 is around 58:10 in length and Volume 2 is 59:24.

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

Audio

    There is only one audio track on this disc: English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 Kb/s). I really wish DVD authors would desist from putting music into Dolby Digital 2.0 and this concert in particular deserves a PCM audio track.

    This audio track has all the normal faults that Dolby Digital 2.0 imposes on music: it sounds insubstantial, and lacklustre, and "compressed." Mastered at a low volume level, it lacks "sparkle" even when I pushed the volume level way up. For certain kinds of music, this may not matter but for smooth jazz performances, it is crucial that the audio track sound "punchy" and dynamic. Dolby Digital 2.0 used for music doesn't sound much better than MP3.

    Lee's dialogue in between songs sound distant and faint, but at least understandable. I did not detect any audio synchronisation issues.

    Needless to say, there is no surround or subwoofer activity in this 2.0 track.



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

Extras

    The extras on this disc are limited to a biography of Lee Ritenour and menu audio and animation. Consistent with the main feature, all menus are presented in full-frame.

Menu

    Surprisingly, the menu features an animated intro and main menu together with background audio, but the animation is so slight (mainly changing density of background lighting) that I wondered why they bothered. Even more surprisingly is that the scene selection menus are animated (featuring the first few seconds of each chapter/song displayed in a tiny window).

Biographies-Cast-Lee Ritenour

    Two stills containing a short biography of Lee Ritenour in text format.

R4 vs R1

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

    As far as I can tell, both the Region 1 and Region 4 versions of this disc feature identical content.

Summary

    Lee Ritenour & Friends - Live from the Cocoanut Grove is well worth listening to, particularly if you like smooth or Latin jazz, and the performances sound as fresh today as when they were originally recorded more than ten years ago. Lee displays a dazzling set of guitar playing techniques and is accompanied by some of the best jazz musicians around. Unfortunately, it is presented of a DVD with mediocre video and audio transfer, and minimal extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Sunday, September 09, 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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