on March 4, 2009
I own and treasure all three of the Jazz Icons box sets. They are an important part of the recorded legacy of many of the greatest jazz musicians who lived in the last half of the 20th century. These are programs recorded by European broadcasters while these major jazz artists were on tour in Europe with their working bands. The musicians were "up" for it, and so were the broadcasters. The quality of the music, the sound, and the video production are all excellent given the technology available they were recorded.
No time is wasted with uninformed TV hosts interviewing musicians they know nothing about. The cameras nearly always seem to find the soloist, there's never the distraction of inane visuals to detract from the performance. The produced DVDs are all well edited and have good musical continuity.
The sound crews all used top quality recording mics, put them in the right place, and mixed them to produce a balance that makes sense musically. I'm a recording engineer specializing in live jazz, and I'd be happy to have my name on any of these shows!
Compared to the Jazz Icons series, the recordings of US broadcasters during the same time frame are worse than a bad joke, they are a tragedy. Lousy sound quality, lousy production, time squandered by clueless hosts and so-called stars. A tragedy because the visual legacy of so many great artists has been lost, or so poorly represented.
There are a few exceptions, most notably the magnificent "The Sound of Jazz" from 1958, arguably television's finest hour, and the subsequent "The Sound of Miles Davis."
on November 9, 2008
As I said on another review of a Jazz Icons disc, buy
this set. This is such a great value. If you are a jazz
fan, and don't own any of the Jazz Icon series, I urge
you to purchase all of these box sets. This is a huge
deal. These sessions range from grainy black and white
to rich color, but all of the performances are so great
one can overlook this, if you love this music as much
as I do. You get a bonus disc with this set, even if
say Roland Kirk isn't your cup of tea, the price makes
it free, but he was an astounding talent, so give it
on April 14, 2012
~ Others have posted fine reviews of this box set and the individual videos contained therein; I refer you to those reviews for details of the 7 discs that comprise the bulk of this box set. However, some readers may be debating between buying the box set or the individual discs. To help you in that decision I have written a review of the Bonus Disc that is part of the box set, but not available for individual purchase. The publishers of the Jazz Icons series have elected to include in each box a Bonus Disc that contains performances that are NOT on the 7 individual discs - so in that sense these performances are indeed a bonus. The bonus disc for this set contains an informative 9 page booklet, which gives the details of the where, when, and who recorded the performances along with a little historical background.
~ A young Sonny Rollins is seen in two segments. The first was filmed in Sweden in 1959 with Henry Grimes on bass and Joe Harris on drums. The program consists of an interview in which Sonny, always the gentleman, politely answers the interviewers questions about his fame and the absence of a piano in the group. After the interview the band performs three tunes: It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing); Paul's Pal; Love letters. Throughout the show, the very young Grimes looks frightened but provides Sonny with solid innovative support. Harris likewise provides solid support and in the first two tunes gets into exchanges of eights and fours with Sonny. The show is recorded live in what looks like a museum setting, but without an audience. Video and sound quality are very good, in fact during "Love Letters" Sonny makes excellent use of the echo in the museum.
~ The second Sonny Rollins segment was recorded in Holland in 1959 and the tunes are: I've Told Every Little Star; I Want to be Happy; A Weaver of Dreams. For this set, Harris is replaced by Pete LaRoca on drums. The video quality is not on a par with the other segments on this DVD, but the sound is very good. As opposed to the previous Sonny segment, this one is recorded before an audience and that is probably the reason the playing is more inspired. Both LaRoca and Grimes are shown to better advantage in this set, with both artists contributing excellent solos. Regardless of setting, Sonny's creativity and individuality shine through. It was not long after these recordings that Sonny took one of his famous sabbaticals.
~ Rahsaan Roland Kirk is seen in an exciting segment recorded in Belgium in 1963. Kirk, playing tenor saxophone, manzello, stritch, flutes and whistles, is a visual spectacle as he plays many of these instruments simultaneously. Kirk is provided with excellent supported by George Gruntz on piano, Guy Pedersen on bass, and Daniel Humair on drums. The program consists of a burning rendition of Oliver Nelson's "Stolen Moments"; a lyrical and tender "Everything Happens to Me" featuring the flute; the lilting 6/8 waltz "Domino"; and finally his signature tune "Three for the Festival." If you never had the opportunity to see Rahsaan Roland Kirk live this bonus disk (and the individual disk in this collection) are a visual treat. How did he do it?????
~ The final segment features Nina Simone from a 11 December1965 appearance in Sweden. Simone sings the old standard "Love Me or Leave Me" and one of her signature songs "Mississippi Goddam" with a brief interview between the songs. The interview focuses on the anger that she put into composing "Mississippi Goddam", and that may explain why the version of "Mississippi Goddam" in this performance is much more intense than the version recorded two weeks later, which appears on the individual dvd. Dramatically different treatments - much more intense and captivating here. She is supported by Rudy Stevenson on guitar (recorded slightly too loud), Lisle Atkinson on bass and Bobby Hamilton on drums. Although the sound on this set is not of the same high quality as the other segments on this disk, it is acceptable. In addition to the intensity of this version of "Mississippi Goddam" the highlight of this segment is the excellence and fire of Simone's piano playing.
on November 2, 2008
In the limited, esoteric world of video footage of jazz performances, the Jazz Icons series stands alone. Other companies churn out performances, often of questionable video quality, and almost always with minimal liner notes. The Jazz Icons series unearth beautiful performances of musicians at their peak creativity. They then match these wonderful performances with thorough liner notes about the musician and the performances.
I hope that this endeavor continues until all of the unseen performances from Europe are released. There are many musicians that have not been covered by these releases, such as Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Ben Webster, Errol Garner, Stan Getz, Ornette Coleman that would be very interesting subjects of future Jazz Icons series. Our job is to spread the word, and keep purchasing these, to encourage future releases.
on November 15, 2008
Having Just Received This Third Edition of The Jazz Icon Series for my Birthday I Must Tell You , The First Two Collections Are Great, This One Is Over The Top Fantastic!!!. Bill Evans, Sonny Rollins, Cannonball , WOW!! Great Examples of How Big the Jazz Tent Is, Come On In ! The Jazz Is Hot. Take Some Time, Open a Bottle of Wine, Relax and ENJOY !!!