Hosted by Ralph J. Gleason
- Five live tracks from Brubeck
- Three live tracks from Coltrane
- Five live tracks from King
Released by: Rhino Home Video
Rating: NR; suitable for all ages
Anamorphic: N/A; all appear in their original 1.33:1 format
My Advice: Jazz lovers must own; jazz non-lovers are fools.
[ad#longpost]As I understand it, for about eight years during the 60s, Ralph J. Gleason hosted a syndicated television show devoted to jazz and blues. As I further understand it, he was able to get some of the gods of these musical genres to come on his show, perform and be interviewed. The shows themselves only lasted a half-hour, but you get a helluva lot of bang for your buck. Such is the case with these three latest Jazz Casual releases from Rhino.
First up, you have Brubeck and his quartet, performing two of my favorites from Time Out, “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo A La Turk,” which also happen to be two of the songs I’ve been listening to since I was a fetus. Brubeck is also interviewed by Gleason, discussing their experimentation and innovation when it comes to new and whacked out time signatures. Then there’s John Coltrane and his quartet, performing three works, but no interview. Not that one was necessary. In fact, I read from the back of that particular box that this is the only video performance in America by Coltrane and his quartet. Thus, it’s a veritable gem and a half. And lastly, a very young B.B. King appears in his first national television appearance.
The only complaint I can really have about these things is that they’re so short–thirty minutes is nowhere near enough time to talk with and hear the performances of these musical giants. But the pain of them being so brief is blunted by the fact that we have them here on DVD now, recorded for posterity. I’m a big fan of historically valid things being in the latest and greatest format so that they can be enjoyed. And it’s hard not to enjoy the effortless stylings of Brubeck, Paul Desmond and crew. Or the unbelievably smooth music of Coltrane. Or for that matter, King coaxing some sweet, sweet
sounds from his guitar. They’re just awesome.
And the only question I might have is why even release three different volumes at all. Not that the musical guests aren’t enough to warrant their own discs, but with only thirty minutes a shot–you could get an entire boxed set onto one disc without breaking a sweat. And sure, it would be nice to get King and Brubeck, and the other musicians who are still with us (Coltrane, sadly, has long been among the missing), to talk about their appearance in retrospect. Or any other myriad special features that could be possible given the length and breadth of their individual careers. But as I said above, jazz lovers won’t give a good damn. They’ll want these things anyway.
Of note, these are television shows from close to four decades ago, so as a result you can sometimes catch a sound waffle or a bit of video strangeness, but that’s to be expected and is easily forgotten about. Also nice is the fact that they’ve actually jacked your audio up to 5.1 surround–so bonus points for that.
Anyway, for the fan of classic jazz, these are must-owns–but the rest of us should…well, become fans of classic jazz, to be bluntly honest about it.