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Monday, December 22, 2008

Best (free) jazz DVDs of 2008

This blog does not have a regular update on DVD material, but anyhow, here is an overview of the best jazz DVDs that I watched this year. What I like on DVDs are entire performances. I don't like just bits and pieces. I also like good camera work, preferably shot with various cameras and properly edited.

First and foremost is the Wadada Leo Smith Quartet with Eclipse, an absolutely stunning performance, with absolutely brilliant editing, a real showcase for what any music DVD should look like (La Huit, 2008). The quartet's CD, "Tabligh", is one of the highlights of the year, and so is this DVD.

Other great DVDs include :
  • 4 Corners - Alive in Lisbon (Clean Feed)
  • Trio X - Live In Vilnius (CIMP)
  • Marc Ribot - The Lost String (La Huit)
  • Henri Texier - Strada Sextet (Artofilms, 2008)
I also add some noteworthy CDs of this and last year. Especially the Chicago Underground Trio's DVD is worth getting. Soil & Pimp Sessions is great fun.
  • Nicole Mitchell - Black Unstoppable (Delmark, 2008)
  • Chicago Underground Trio - Chronicles (Delmark, 2007)
  • Ari Brown - Live At The Green Mill (Delmark, 2007)
  • Soil & Pimp Sessions - U Want More? Live At Montreux 2006 (Victor, 2007)
DVDs that I haven't had the chance to see, but looking forward to :
  • Ken Vandermark - Musician
  • Roy Campbell - Arts Interplay

Wadada Leo Smith - Eclipse

This DVD brings the entire live performance of The Golden Quartet, with Smith on trumpet, Vijay Iyer on keyboards, John Lindberg on bass and Ronald Shannon Jackson on drums. It is filmed with only hand-held cameras and in black & white. But the editing is absolutely superb, and follows the music in split-seconds. Brilliant and spectacular.

Henri Texier - Strada Sextet

This DVD shows the French stylist and wonderful composer Henri Texier at work with his Strada Sextet, which released the fabulous "Alerte A L'Eau" last year, and of which many of the tunes are performed here. The CD has almost the perfect balance between interesting rehearsal discussions, interviews and live performance. Especially the rehearsals shed some light on the Texier's musical approach and vision.

4 Corners - Alive In Lisbon

This first DVD by the Portuguese Clean Feed label captures this great band, consisting of Adam Lane on bass, Ken Vandermark on bass clarinet and baritone sax, Magnus Broo on trumpet and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums, during a live performance in Lisbon. All pieces come from the "4 Corners" CD, except for the last track, "Sanctum", which is on the "Drunk Butterfly" album. Great music and great band, great performance too. The performance was recorded by various cameras and is well-edited.

Trio X - The Train & The River

Please see here for a full review of this DVD.

Marc Ribot - The Lost String

This DVD gives an overview of Marc Ribot's career and his musical adventures and boundary-pushing needs, in rock, jazz, fake cuban, classical, klezmer and way beyond all genres. The picture given of the musician is interesting and warm, cosy and broad of scope, which of course reduces the performances to a minimum. And that is a pity. The performances are really too short, and like the Trio X DVD, wets our appetites for more, but it just doesn't come. Well, anyway, after viewing the DVD, I listened to the Cubanos Postizos again. And that was a long time ago.

Vision 3 Festival (AUM Fidelity, 2005)

This one is a little bit older, but I managed to get a copy this year. With great performances and interviews with Joe McPhee, Roy Campbell, William Parker, Henry Grimes, Matthew Shipp, Whit Dickey, Joe Morris, Rob Brown, well .... the usual crowd.

Watch Wadada Leo Smith Golden Quartet

Watch 4 Corners

Watch Henri Texier

Watch Marc Ribot

© stef


Anonymous said...

Great list... we gonna get a Best of 2008 list from you? :)

I'm formulating my best instrumental/jazz list now. My vocal one is up... though not as jazz, obviously.


Cosmo Vitelli said...

Thank you.
Really nice list. I have some of those DVDs and I fully agree. Wadada's, although not really a 2008 issue -I own the very same first 2005 twoDVD5 release- is a magic work of jazz filming. Ah, those french.

Ciao :-)