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DVD: Jazz Shots from the West Coast Vol. 1 (2006)
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August 29, 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

Art Pepper, Chet Baker, Zoot Sims, Phineas Newborn Jr. Trio, Shelly Manne Quintet with Conte Candoli, and Wes Montgomery.

Film Length: 54 mins
Process/Ratio: 1.33:1
Black & White / Colour
Anamorphic DVD: No
Languages:  English Mono
Special Features :  


Comments :

Volume 1 in the Jazz Shots West Coast series begins with a cut from Art Pepper's 1964 appearance on the Jazz Casual TV series, playing the high register sounds and driving rhythms of "D. Section." Though the audio is very low and badly miked, the solos are first rate, and show Pepper in his harder style, when compared to the more structured big band sounds from his EMI years.

Another icon from the West Coast is Chet Baker, seen here in his later years after the substance abuse had started to ravage his body. Most likely taped during the late seventies, Baker still shows how beautifully he could play, and his rendition of "If I Should Lose You" sparkles with his stream of sharply drawn notes. Just as noteworthy are the solo contributions from bass and piano who share their spotlight, while Baker listens for a bit, and trades a few bits with the bassist near the end.

Ferde Grofe's "On the Trail" gets a bouncy interpretation from Zoot Sims in a filmed club performance from the seventies (with mandatory hairstyles and fabric patterns long since outlawed). There's great material from the pianist, and saxophonist Sims, plus solid rhythm support from the drums and bass. (Again, the only problem with the Jazz Shots series is the lack of source details, so most of the musicians can't be identified, except by the most devoted fans.)

A real treat is the Phineas Newborn Jr., Trio, who perform "Lush Life," "Theme for Basie," and "Oleo" in extracts from the Jazz Scene USA show. The first song was perfectly rendered by Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane in their sublime 1963 collaboration for Impulse, and Newborn's piano work captures the luxurious tenor of Hartman's vocals, yet adds a suitably classical finesse to the elegant tune. Bass and drums appear when Newborn plays the gorgeous melodic centre, which contains some of the most beautifully written passages drenched in wistful sadness.

"Theme for Basie" picks up the pace, with a smooth, leisurely tune, while "Oleo" hastens the tempo in classic Bop style. Typical of the show's visual style, the musicians' concentration is captured in composed medium shots, while the editor cuts to perfectly timed close-ups of Newborn's dexterous fingers, and canted angles that compress parts of two musicians in tightly framed shots.

Also from the same series are two cuts with the Shelly Manne Quintet. The lonely pain of "The Isolate Pawn" is exceptionally conveyed by the band's solos, although Conte Candoli's piano work is the obvious spark in the piece. "Fan Tan" is much lighter tune, and both cuts reveal the level of sophistication that West Coast musicians had achieved on their own, with some seriously meditative compositions. The up-tempo brass solos in "Fan Tan" do show some East Coast influence, but the harmonics are what West Coast fans loved about these great bands.

Another cut from Wes Montgomery's Jazz Scene USA appearance (also extracted on Vol. 2 in this series) closes the DVD, with the guitarist and his band performing "Jingles" with soloists gliding between each other. As with most of the extracts on this disc, the volume levels are rather low low, but the transfers are clear, with stable blacks and greys.

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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