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Music Video Distributors presents

Cool Summer: Stan Getz and Alto Madness (2002)

"Jazz is terrific therapy. When all else fails, you can turn to jazz."- Richie Cole

Stars: Stan Getz, Richie Cole
Other Stars: Victor Lewis, Mark Johnson, Jim McNeal, Bobby Enriquez, Bruce Foreman, Marshall Hawkins, Scott Morris, Steve Allen
Director: Robert Zagone

MPAA Rating: Not RatedRun Time: 00h:59m:59s
Release Date: 2002-10-01
Genre: jazz

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Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- BCB- C-

 

DVD Review

It's a brisk night in the Napa Valley, and with the sunset and the first chill of autumn in the air, if you're a jazz fan, it's hard to think of a better way to pass the time than at an outdoor concert featuring a pair of first-tier saxophonists. Your host is Steve Allen, who seems as if he'd rather be playing—it's torture for him to look up from the piano and address the audience, but he must, as he's emceeing for the event, part of the Harvest Jazz series of concerts at the Paul Masson vineyard in Northern California.

Richie Cole and his and group, Alto Madness, are batting leadoff here—Cole plays alto sax, and it's no surprise that that's the dominant instrument in the ensemble he leads. Especially winning, though, is the keyboard style of Bobby Enriquez, who at times seems to be going fifteen rounds with his piano, and at others plays with such delicacy that he seems to be channeling the spirit of Erroll Garner. The songs are intercut with talking-head footage of Cole, who fixes the historical moment of the music of his group: "It's fusion of several forms of good music, and it's bringing it into the eighties." (The fashions are kind of the giveaway, though, especially Cole's Members Only jacket.) I understand wanting to cut away to interview clips to cover the transitions between songs, but it seems like an unsound editorial choice to drop in these pretty bland bits of talking during the musical numbers. Anyway, their set list:

Confirmation
Cole's Nocturne
Save Your Love For Me
Strange Groove/Harold's House of Jazz
Serenata
Red Top


The transition to the nightcap is done with some random clips of audience members describing what jazz means to them—along the lines of "jazz is sexy"—and then we move from alto sax to tenor sax, with the great Stan Getz. He sounds so good and so casual that you realize how hard Cole was pressing, and how a true master, like Getz, doesn't have to. There's nothing especially revelatory in his set—he seems to be enjoying the summer night in the same casual way his audience is, and he even drags on a butt during the other musicians' solos—but his confidence, his technique, his experience and his virtuosity make even a throwaway performance like this worth attending to. Again, unfortunately some of the cuts are interrupted by interview footage—it's nice to hear from Getz, but not in the middle of a saxophone lick. The songs he puts through their paces are:

Fine and Dandy
The Night Has a Thousand Eyes
A Time For Love
Dolphin
Tempus Fugit
A Pretty Girl / Walk Spirit Talk Spirit


It's all over pretty quickly, and may leave you hungry for more—and given the setting, it's a DVD that may prompt trips both to the CD player and the wine cellar.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Colors are blotchy and there's way too much contrast; it's a weakness of shooting in video, especially with the technology of twenty years ago. What you shoot on your camcorder today would probably look better than this in terms of color. But at least there's some verve to the filmmaking, and the energy of the performers is communicated surprisingly well, given the technical limitations.

Image Transfer Grade: C
 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: The music sounds pretty good, but there's little sense of this being a live event, which is too bad. Getz's drummer is overmiked, and all of Cole's backup musicians, but for the pianist, get short shrift in the mix. It's easy to enjoy the tunes, but they don't sound as terrific as they might, or as they must have on the night of the concert.

Audio Transfer Grade: B- 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Music/Song Access with 12 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Stan Getz discography
Extras Review: Brief biographies are provided for six of the musicians (Getz and Cole, along with Marc Johnson, Vic Lewis, Bobby Enriquez and Bruce Foreman), along with a Getz discography that doesn't look exhaustive. The flip side offers the same material for Region 2, and there's a weblink for the British distributor of the DVD.

Extras Grade: C-
 

Final Comments

Not a real barn burner, but a nice set of a very able sax player (Cole), and another by one of the best in the business, Stan Getz. It all clocks in at under an hour, but for jazz fans it's an hour well spent.

Jon Danziger 2002-11-06