Here are two of my favorite music-related DVDs of recent years. They're very different as far as musical styles, but both capture the passion and excitement of music. Daniel Anker's Music from the Inside Out consists mostly of interviews and profiles of musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestra. Being a jazz musician, I found it fascinating to learn about the lives of classical musicians and the behind-the-scenes things that go on in the orchestra. One of my favorite parts in the bonus material explains why, to a jazz musician, the conductor's baton always seems to be ahead of the beat. Branford Marsalis: A Love Supreme Live is concert footage of saxophonist Marsalis and his group performing John Coltrane's suite of songs from the Love Supreme album. The performance is driving and passionate! There are also great interviews on the topic of Coltrane from Michael Brecker, Marsalis, and others.
Music From the Inside Out
(USA) 2003, New Video Group
Coltrane's A Love Supreme
(USA) 2004, Marsalis Music
Musician and owner/operator of Dizzy's Jazz Club, DizzysSanDiego.com
Here are music DVDs to be thankful for. Thelonious Monk was a true jazz original -- steadfast in his vision of a music made up of angular melodies and unusual harmonic progressions. His compositions have become staples of the modern jazz repertoire. In Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser you'll find him in classic black-and-white footage performing and recording as well as in private personal moments. My favorite visual images are of him doing his little shuffle dance onstage and walking through his New York neighborhood, greeted by shouts and handshakes from strangers who recognize him. Arguably the best "slice of life" jazz documentary you will ever see. Calle 54, in contrast, is in vibrant color -- a scintillating portrait spotlighting the legends of Latin jazz: Tito Puente, Gato Barbieri, Michel Camilo, Paquito D'Rivera, Chucho Valdes, Eliane Elias, and more. It's all here: the realness, the rhythms, the palpable, undeniable musical energy.
Thelonious Monk - Straight No Chaser
(USA) 1988, Warner Home Video
(Spain) 2000, Miramax
The late bassists Ray Brown and Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen join pianist Oscar Peterson in Norman Granz Jazz in Montreux Presents Oscar Peterson Trio '77. Two influential jazz bass players of the post-bop era lay it down with master pianist Peterson. Solo piano for a few tunes, then just acoustic piano and the two bass players. Keith Jarrett: The Art of Improvisation offers enlightening insight to the life and attitudes of pianist Keith Jarrett. Nice footage of many of the greats he's worked with -- Charles Lloyd, Miles Davis, to name a couple -- as well as his current trio with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette.
Dingo has Miles Davis in his only acting role. A traveling jazz band goes to the Australian outback and inspires a young boy to devote himself to the trumpet and jazz. Nice to see Miles acting just before his passing.
Norman Granz Jazz In Montreux Presents Oscar Peterson Trio '77
(USA) Eagle Vision
Keith Jarrett - Art of Improvisation
(USA) 2005, Euroarts
(Australia) 1991, Spectrum