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DVD: Jazz Shots from the West Coast Vol. 3 (2006)
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June 20, 2006



Genre: Jazz Performances / Jazz Concerts  
Anthology of live and filmed jazz performances of famous west coast musicians.  



Directed by:

none credited
Screenplay by: none credited
Music by: various
Produced by: none credited

Dave Brubeck Quartet, Jimmy Guiffre Trio, Stan Kenton, Jim Hall, and the Frank Rosolino Quartet.

Film Length: 67 mins
Process/Ratio: 1.33:1
Black & White / Colour
Anamorphic DVD: No
Languages:  English Mono
Special Features :  


Comments :

Vol. 3 of Jazz Shots from the West Coast features a mix of rare and harder-to-find live performances from TV during the fifties and sixties, including Jazz Casual [JC] and Jazz Scene USA [JSU]. (Note: the sleeve track list accidentally reprints the cues from East Coast Vol. 1.)

Beginning with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, the disc offers two songs from the group's JC date during the sixties, with a looser and more intriguing rendition of "Take Five." Even better is the dynamic between Brubeck and drummer Joe Morello on "Castilian Blues," with the former kick-starting the tune with a lavish solo, and later his quiet waiting, watching, and wondering as to when Morello will finally look up so Brubeck can play his closing bit. "(It's a) Raggy Waltz" is the final extract from the half-hour TV show, and while the sound isn't perfectly balanced between each musician, it's a treat to watch the quartet perform one of their top standards outside of a formal recording studio.

1957's The Sound of Jazz is perhaps the most highly regarded jazz show from the Golden Age of TV, and the disc includes Jimmy Guiffre Trio performing "The Train and the River" with guitarist Jim Hall. (The same tune was also captured on film in Bert Stern's concert documentary of the 1958 Newport Jazz festival, Jazz on a Summer's Day.)

The live show, directed by Jack Smight, featured a who's who of jazz' elite musicians, which included Count Basie, Billie Holiday, and Jimmy Rushing. Guiffre's appearance on the show also included a great set with Pee Wee Russell. The original Sound of Jazz show is also available on 2-disc set, The Greatest Jazz Films Ever, and music from the pre-show studio recordings were released on a 1958 Columbia LP (in stereo & mono).

The legendary Stan Kenton and his melophoniums - "they're the instruments with the big, round tubing and the large, flaring bells" - perform the Latin-flavored (or as close to Latin as the melo's will go) "Malaguea" and "Waltz of the Prophets" on the old JSU program. Kenton's orchestra and crisp brass make for a nice contrast to the other west coasters on the DVD, and the orchestra's size offer a nice alternative in their versions of Leonard Bernstein's "Maria," and the more contemporized "Limehouse Blues." Fans of composer Jerry Fielding will find the brass writing rather familiar, as the harmonics and heavy brass recall Fielding's harmonics and complex rhythms in his jazzy film scores for Clint Eastwood.

Also from JSU is Jim Hall's performance of "Valse Hot," and a rare colour film segment of Hampton Hawes playing "Stella by Starlight" from what seems like a seventies performance.

The Frank Rosolino Quartet plays three tunes from their JSU appearance - the classic "Lover Man," "Well You Needn't," and "Yesterdays." Trombonist Rosolino also introduces the second song as a work by Thelonious Monk, 'who writes with funk, and that's no bunk.' As with all the other JSU extracts, the look and sound is clean and elegant (even in OK mono), and the cinematography once again favors the musicians in Claxtonian angles - extreme close-ups of instruments and performance details - and an overall shot composition that's very precise. (Rosolino and his trombone form a complete V, with an opposing line of studio lights during their final song.)

In some of the JSU extracts, the name of a soloist is superimposed, as originally done during the studio taping, but overall there should be a rudimentary personnel list included with the DVD, so jazz fans can track the performance dates, and novitiates can recognize some of the musicians they know by printed name and style from their album appearances. That said, this is a mandatory anthology for jazz fans.

Available separately, this great title is part of a six-part wave that includes Jazz Shots from the East Coast Volume 1, Volume 2, & Volume 3, and Jazz Shots from the West Coast Volume 1, Volume 2, & Volume 3.


© 2006 Mark R. Hasan

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