240

The Sound of Jazz

By

Sign in to view read count
Oddly omitting Thelonious Monk, this DVD presentation of CBS Television's The Sound of Jazz still rates near the top of jazz on the small screen, albeit in a somewhat diminished capacity, lagging behind the earlier VHS release. But for most jazz fans, any edition of The Sound of Jazz still boasts, regardless of drawbacks, the ultimate televised gathering of many of the music's key artists. Particularly evident with this transfer is how the studio lights wreak havoc with the reflections in the brass instruments, especially near the beginning of the program, emitting strange black bands that refract and compromise the image, a problem picked up less clearly in the VHS version. Fifties television photography was always a bit perplexing, in that the technology and videotaping technique plays a strange compositional trick, allowing us to look deep into the frame and see, for instance, what movements background figures are making, amounting to a kind of soft, deep focus—everything is blurred, but we do have depth of field. As raggedy as this looks, especially by today's standards, like in the CBS Orson Welles production of King Lear or any Honeymooners episode, with The Sound of Jazz we are able to focus our attention wherever that attention is in a moment directed. One may gaze on Jo Jones keeping time, or instead Count Basie and his punctuating piano style and determine that both are equally essential to the Basie band's core rhythm and swing. The well known highlight of the program was the final teaming of Billie Holiday and Lester Young. Holiday's face, in profile, with her chin turned towards her left shoulder, occupies eighty percent of the frame for the bulk of "Fine and Mellow," and when we contrast her singing voice with her speaking voice—which is heard via voice-over—the vocal performance is a wonder, a delight rating just behind the nod and look of utter approbation she gives Young at the conclusion of his breathy, warm solo. And then there is Jimmy Rushing, in fine form, singing with commanding intonation, but an absolute bear of a man, with pronounced folds of skin at the base of his shoulder blades bulging beneath his sport coat, and from the front resembling, rather alarmingly, a post-Hall of Fame Kirby Puckett. This DVD, which is bereft of notes, a booklet, or anything of the like, at least left the program's commercials in tact, and if you did miss Noël Coward on that week's Ed Sullivan Show , you are probably better off with his memoirs besides.


Copyright 2004 Goldmine / Krause Publications . Reprinted with permission.


Shop

More Articles

Read Man of the World: The Peter Green Story DVD/Film Reviews Man of the World: The Peter Green Story
by Jim Trageser
Published: February 11, 2017
Read Bob Dylan: No Direction Home - Deluxe 10th Anniversary  Edition DVD/Film Reviews Bob Dylan: No Direction Home - Deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: December 18, 2016
Read Rolling Stones - Ole Ole Ole!: A Trip Across Latin America DVD/Film Reviews Rolling Stones - Ole Ole Ole!: A Trip Across Latin America
by Doug Collette
Published: December 18, 2016
Read The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi DVD/Film Reviews The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi
by Marc Davis
Published: December 16, 2016
Read The Life & Songs of Emmylou Harris DVD/Film Reviews The Life & Songs of Emmylou Harris
by Doug Collette
Published: December 3, 2016
Read "Rolling Stones - Ole Ole Ole!: A Trip Across Latin America" DVD/Film Reviews Rolling Stones - Ole Ole Ole!: A Trip Across Latin America
by Doug Collette
Published: December 18, 2016
Read "Eberhard Weber: The Jubilee Concert" DVD/Film Reviews Eberhard Weber: The Jubilee Concert
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 4, 2016
Read "Johnny Winter: Down & Dirty" DVD/Film Reviews Johnny Winter: Down & Dirty
by Doug Collette
Published: June 11, 2016
Read "Man of the World: The Peter Green Story" DVD/Film Reviews Man of the World: The Peter Green Story
by Jim Trageser
Published: February 11, 2017
Read "Miles Ahead: A Powerhouse Film, But is it the Truth?" DVD/Film Reviews Miles Ahead: A Powerhouse Film, But is it the Truth?
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: April 25, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!