Saturday, November 22, 2008

DVD of the Day - "Al Jarreau: In Concert"

DVD of the Day
Al Jarreau: "In Concert" (Rhino) 2008

At long last, the DVD release of Al Jarreau's stunning performance, in 1994, at the "Ohne Filter Musik Pur" German TV show. Since 1983, this series has served to showcase countless music legends, and some concerts - by Tania Maria, David Sanborn, The Crusaders, Airto & Flora Purim, Jose Feliciano, James Taylor, Richie Havens, John Mayall and the Shakatak group, among others - were issued, on Image Entertainment's "Purely Music" collection, on the LaserDisc format I loved so much. Most recently, Bill Wyman's performance in 2000 came out on DVD through the German In-Akustik label.

Jarreau's astonishing concert, filmed in front of a ecstatic live audience at the SWR TV Studios in Baden-Baden, opens with a fantastic reading of Jorge Ben's "Mas Que Nada", which, along with Gershwin's "Summertime", Elton John's "Your Song" and Jarreau's own "You Don't See Me", had been recorded one year earlier for Al's "Tenderness" project (yet to be reissued on DVD). There are also killer versions of Paul Desmond's "Take Five" (allowing Jarreau to showcase his incomparable ability to mimic an entire band, vocalizing congas and drums solos like no one else can do) and "Says," the lush theme a la Michel Colombier co-written by Al and Philippe Saisse in 1986 for the "L Is For Lover" album. By the way, "Take Five" became Al's signature tour-de-force after its success on the 2-LP set "Look To The Rainbow", partially recorded live in... Germany!

The top-class band features superdrummer Steve Gadd, keyboardists Neil Larsen and Larry Williams (the former Seawind member who doubles on tenor sax), and guitar ace Charles "Icarus" Johnson, whom I first met in California in the late 70s, playing with Airto (on the "I'm Fine, How Are You?" sessions and subsequent tour) and Raul de Souza (going to Brazil with him to perform at the 1978 Sao Paulo/Montreux Jazz Festival, aka "The First São Paulo International Jazz Festival"). The program also includes the pop-oriented hits "Roof Garden" and "We're In This Love Together" (mistitled "We're All In Love Together" on the DVD credits), plus the blues anthem "C C Rider", sung as the encore.

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