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.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read La La Land DVD/Film Reviews La La Land
by Gareth Thomas
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Jeff Beck: Live at the Hollywood Bowl DVD/Film Reviews Jeff Beck: Live at the Hollywood Bowl
by Doug Collette
Published: October 7, 2017
Read Rolling Stones From The Vault: Sticky Fingers Live at the Fonda Theatre 2015 DVD/Film Reviews Rolling Stones From The Vault: Sticky Fingers Live at the...
by Doug Collette
Published: September 30, 2017
Read Frank Sinatra: Portrait Of An Album | Sinatra Sings DVD/Film Reviews Frank Sinatra: Portrait Of An Album | Sinatra Sings
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: September 27, 2017
Read Frank Sinatra: Live From Caesar’s Palace | The First 40 Years DVD/Film Reviews Frank Sinatra: Live From Caesar’s Palace | The First...
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: September 27, 2017
Read Frank Sinatra: The Royal Festival Hall (1962) | Live At Carnegie Hall DVD/Film Reviews Frank Sinatra: The Royal Festival Hall (1962) | Live At...
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: September 27, 2017
Read "Frank Sinatra: The Royal Festival Hall (1962) | Live At Carnegie Hall" DVD/Film Reviews Frank Sinatra: The Royal Festival Hall (1962) | Live At...
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: September 27, 2017
Read "Bill Frisell: A Portrait" DVD/Film Reviews Bill Frisell: A Portrait
by John Kelman
Published: March 14, 2017
Read "Rolling Stones From The Vault: Sticky Fingers Live at the Fonda Theatre 2015" DVD/Film Reviews Rolling Stones From The Vault: Sticky Fingers Live at the...
by Doug Collette
Published: September 30, 2017
Read "Frank Sinatra: Portrait Of An Album | Sinatra Sings" DVD/Film Reviews Frank Sinatra: Portrait Of An Album | Sinatra Sings
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: September 27, 2017
Read "Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary" DVD/Film Reviews Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: July 4, 2017
Read "The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years" DVD/Film Reviews The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years
by Doug Collette
Published: November 20, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.