Music Video Distributors presents
Cool Summer: Dexter Gordon & McCoy Tyner (2002)
"It's hard to define what jazz is, in specific terms, because it's a way of life."- McCoy Tyner
Stars: Dexter Gordon, McCoy Tyner
Other Stars: Bobby Hutcherson, Kirk Lightsey, Avery Sharpe, John Blake, Ronnie Burrage
Director: Robert Zagone
MPAA Rating: Not RatedRun Time: 01h:03m:55s
Release Date: 2002-09-10
DVD ReviewIt's hard to beat the Napa Valley on a late summer evening, and if you're a jazz fan, this DVD is the very thing for you. Two saxophone masters are recorded in concert at the Harvest Jazz Festival at the Paul Masson Vineyards, and though this is not the most polished concert film you'll ever see, the spirit of the music comes through loud and clear.
When Dexter Gordon takes the stage, he deflects the audience's applause to his horn, but there's a bit of false modesty there, I'd guess. The disc gets right to it, and he sounds great. His performance is intercut with backstage interview footage of him; he doesn't have anything especially revealing to say, and the clips only impede the sense of flow, as they're spliced into the first song in his set. You never really get the feeling of what it's like to be on stage, or even in the audience, but man, Gordon can blow that horn. Unfortunately, we get only a truncated little set, running less than half an hour, of three songs—they are:
Backstage at the Village
Skylark is probably the best of these, a plaintive sax rendition of a torch song standard.
McCoy Tyner's set is the nightcap, and his combo is a tight one, though I can't say I've ever been a great fan of the jazz violin. He seems to have more musicians with him on stage than does Gordon, and each of them get a chance to solo; one of the unfortunate absences on the disc is that it's missing a roster of all the performers. (To my mind, Tyner gives a little too much time to his ensemble; it's hard to know if what's here was his entire playlist, or just a version winnowed down for DVD.) Xylophonist Bobby Hutcherson joins Tyner's group for the last of the three songs, which are:
Walk Spirit Talk Spirit
A little more in atmospherics would have gone a long way, but really, I'd have settled for some more music, as the running time of the entire disc is barely over an hour. There's also no indication as to when these concerts were recorded—were they the same year? The same night? It's not crucial information and not knowing it won't interfere with your enjoyment of the jazz, but it just seems a little sloppy and neglectful.
Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: B+
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The concerts seem to have been recorded on video with a multiple-camera shoot, and the transfer to DVD doesn't look especially good—there's too much contrast and grain, and some serious resolution problems. It all makes the Napa Valley look kind of pasty, which is no easy feat.
Image Transfer Grade: C-
Audio Transfer Review: The music generally sounds fine, and was recorded in more sophisticated fashion than the video; still, the capacity of the recording equipment sometimes gets maxed out, producing some nasty buzz, during Gordon's set especially. The balance and dynamics aren't especially well done, and there's little aural sense of how the musicians are relating to one another, or to their audience.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Music/Song Access with 6 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Extras Review: Biographies are included for Gordon and Tyner, as well as for Kirk Lightsey, Avery Sharpe, John Blake and Ronnie Burrage, who I'm assuming are the backing musicians, for this is the only place they're identified. Gordon's and Tyner's bio also include selected discographies. Chapter stops are pegged to each song, and the same material encoded for Region 2 seems to be on the flip side of the disc. Also included is a brief promo and weblink for Quantum Leap, the British distributor of the DVD.
Extras Grade: C
Final CommentsImagine that you're there on the vineyard, grab a glass of chardonnay and treat your ears. This isn't a great looking disc, and while the technical values aren't of high quality, the music triumphs over those limitations. A treat more for the ears than the eyes.
Jon Danziger 2002-09-09