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Providing highlights from Legends of Jazz, this Showcase serves as a great introduction to the 2006 PBS television series. This CD/DVD package captures quite a few of the musical performances from the thirteen half-hour episodes, apparently selecting the best parts.
The CD features Al Jarreau and Kurt Elling improvising on "Take Five in a spontaneous setting. Chris Botti interprets "My Funny Valentine with his heart worn on his shirtsleeve. Marcus Miller, George Duke and Lee Ritenour plow through "The Panther with a blues fuse that's blown away, while David Sanborn and Phil Woods approach "Señor Blues with characteristic straight-ahead appeal. "Armando's Rhumba finds Chick Corea alone with the creative fires that move him, while "Killer Joe is presented by its composer, who hasn't lost a step.
Keb' Mo' and Robert Cray dish out the blues with a natural spirit that's contagious. "The Island features Ivan Lins in a soothing Brazilian adventure, while "Obsession carries Dave Valentin's flute on the winds of a fiery Afro-Caribbean volcano. Dave Brubeck and Billy Taylor work out a lovely two-piano version of "Take the 'A' Train, while Ramsey Lewis interprets John Coltrane's "Dear Lord alone at the piano. Jane Monheit and John Pizzarelli share their vocal talents on "They Can't Take That Away from Me, a sexy swinger, while Clark Terry amazes with his unique vocal delivery on "Mumbles.
The DVD runs for approximately 55 minutes and includes text biographies for each of the featured artists, as well as 53 colorful photos in a gallery setting with theme music. Each of the tracks from the CD appears here as it was shown on television. Quite naturally, the compilation provides thrills for viewers young and old, progressive and traditional, tolerant and critical. Finally fusion and avant-garde fans can join with blues and swing lovers and bebop disciples to agree on the relevance that each direction in jazz has for the whole. Those of us who don't have the time or opportunity to get out and see these folks at our favorite nightspots can sit back, watch and listen, and absorb the show as if we were there.