Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

1,158

Jazz Icons Series 2 Set: Wes, Mingus, Coltrane, Dexter, Duke, Brubeck and More.

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Jazz IconsVarious Artists
Jazz Icons Series 2 Box Set
Reelin' in the Years
2007



While the advent of the DVD has resulted in the unearthing of a virtual treasure trove of archival live video performances, many available for the first time in any format, the quality can often be hit-and-miss. Not so with the Jazz Icons series of DVDs, the first series hitting the streets in 2006. It's been written that this outstanding series of live performances by legendary jazz artists is to jazz what the renowned Criterion Collection has been to film in terms of quality and packaging, and that's no hyperbole. While there are occasional glimpses of the limitations of these DVD's original sources, what made the release of Series 1 such an event was the relatively pristine quality of the video and the rich, full-frequencied audio.



While the first series of nine DVDs, featuring Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Buddy Rich, Count Basie, Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Quincy Jones and Thelonious Monk, was collected into a box set after the individual discs were released, there was nothing added to compel the avid fan to consider the entire collection. Series 2 changes that by including, in addition to outstanding discs featuring John Coltrane, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Dexter Gordon, Wes Montgomery and Charles Mingus, a bonus disc with forty minutes of previously unseen performances by Coltrane in 1962, Gordon in 1964, Brubeck in 1964 and Vaughan in 1967. It may not be enough to change some from cherry-picking among the discs that interest them, but for the completist or ardent fan it's certainly a strong carrot.



With running times ranging from 65 minutes to two hours, extensive booklets written by musicians like Pat Metheny, archivists including Ashley Kahn, or family members such as Darius Brubeck and Sue Mingus, who go into exhaustive detail about the shows presented, not to mention the inclusion of heretofore unseen footage, there's almost too much of a good thing to do justice by it within the scope of this review. While every disc has something to please fans of a particular artist, some discs are of undeniable historic importance, regardless of a consumer's tastes or personal preferences.



Jazz Icons / Wes MontgomeryWes Montgomery
Live in '65
Reelin' in the Years
2007



While there's no shortage of recorded material by Wes Montgomery—one jazz's most enduringly influential guitarists despite a relatively brief career cut tragically short by his death in 1968 at the age of forty-three- -this 78-minute, monaural recording captures Montgomery during three European performances in Holland, Belgium and England in 1965. It was a watershed period for Montgomery, coming out of a longstanding contract with Riverside and about to head into a period that some consider something of a commercial sell- out, despite his playing arguably reaching new heights.



Each performance features Montgomery with a different band, with only one of them featuring the musicians—pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Arthur Harper and drummer Jimmy Lovelace—he brought from the US and who accompanied him on most of his European dates that year. The other two bands are of worthy note, although the UK group with pianist Stan Tracey, drummer Jackie Dougan and a pre-Mahavishnu Orchestra Rick Laird on acoustic bass plays it a tad on the safe side, even for Montgomery's in-the-middle mainstream focus.



Montgomery's Dutch band and its performance contains, perhaps, the DVD's best footage for two reasons. First, while brothers Pim (piano) and Ruud (bass) Jacobs are no slouches, there's an opportunity to see a very young Han Bennink on drums, playing in a completely straight-ahead manner, before he'd established his reputation as one of the founding fathers of the "New Dutch Swing." Second, some rehearsal footage, with Montgomery walking the group through "The End of a Love Affair," lays waste to the myth that Montgomery, a self-taught musician, had no technical knowledge. Self-taught needn't imply uneducated, and here Montgomery makes it clear that his understanding of harmony and changes was not compromised just because he'd not undergone a formal education.



Montgomery's performances are spellbinding throughout. While John Abercrombie has, in the past decade, picked up the mantle of Montgomery as a guitarist playing solely with his thumb, watching Montgomery's single opposable digit execute lines at a near-impossible speed is a revelation. And while the Dutch and Belgian shows are looser and more relaxed than the UK show, all three affirm Montgomery's remarkable imagination and invention.



Jazz Icons / Charles MingusCharles Mingus
Live in '64
Reelin' in the Years
2007

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Film Reviews
Buddy Bolden: Out of History's Shadows
By Victor L. Schermer
May 3, 2019
Film Reviews
Green Book: A Serious Comedy and Jazz Allegory
By Victor L. Schermer
December 28, 2018
Film Reviews
Home Invasion: In Concert at the Royal Albert Hall (2CD/Blu Ray)
By John Kelman
December 22, 2018
Film Reviews
Green Book Directed By Peter Farrelly
By Mike Perciaccante
December 3, 2018
Film Reviews
Rolling Stones: Voodoo Lounge Uncut
By Doug Collette
November 17, 2018
Film Reviews
Rolling Stone: Stories From The Edge - 50 Years of Defining Culture
By Doug Collette
October 7, 2018
Film Reviews
The US Festival 1982: The US Generation
By Doug Collette
September 2, 2018