Case Number 04049: Small Claims Court


BMI // 2002 // 31 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Elizabeth Skipper (Retired) // March 10th, 2004

The Charge

Jazz was never meant to be played in someone's living room.

The Case

Let me start with a disclaimer: I'm not a jazz expert, not in the least. I'm a jazz fan, but not an educated one, and though I can tell you what I like and what I don't like, I usually can't tell you why. In other words, take my advice with a grain of salt.

This disc is about as simple as it gets. When you first pop it in, a very old-school menu appears with a list of seven tracks. Choose one and suddenly a man, Joe Lovano, will be on your screen in what appears to be a living room filled with recording equipment, playing a saxophone (tenor, straight alto, or soprano, depending on the track). Once the track finishes, you'll see a transition screen with a picture of an album or magazine cover featuring Joe, and then the next track will start. And that's it.

With such simplicity, you might wonder, as I do, why Mr. Lovano didn't just make a CD. I suppose jazz can be fun to watch, but that's usually when there's an ensemble of some sort, some interaction, or some chemistry to keep you riveted. When there's just a man standing in a living room with a saxophone, it's not really necessary for us to see him.

The tracks included on this disc are:
* Hothouse (written by Todd Dameron)
* Stella by Starlight (written by Victor Young)
* Giant Steps (written by John Coltrane)
* Gallop's Gallop (written by Thelonious Monk)
* Star Eyes (written by Don Raye and Gene DePaul)
* Along Came Betty (written by Benny Golson)
* Body and Soul (written by John Green)

From what information I can find about Joe Lovano, he's a well-regarded musician, considered to be one of the top in his genre. Really? He just didn't do it for me. But then, I think the majority of the excitement and beauty of jazz comes, again, in the interaction. Ensemble members feed off each other and push each other to greater heights than they could reach on their own. Solo jazz is, at least to me, just a man standing in a living room with his saxophone. So while Mr. Lovano gives a technically sound performance, demonstrates an adequate range, and, all in all, doesn't miss a beat, his heart doesn't seem to be in it. He seems to be missing the give and take of his fellow musicians and the energy of a live audience.

The transfers for this disc are about what you'd expect from a DVD of a man playing solo jazz in his living room. The full frame video is grainy and shimmery, but that doesn't really matter, because your best chance at enjoying this experience is to turn off your TV and just listen. Of course, it would be a lot easier to do that if you were given better than a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track; this is what most CDs offer, which forces me to ask again why Lovano bothered to make a DVD.

Which leads me to my recommendation: if you're a fan of Joe Lovano, or interested in becoming one, buy one of his many CDs, not this DVD. You'll get equal -- and possibly better -- sound, and you won't have to watch a man standing in a living room with his saxophone.

For attempting to bring his craft to a new medium -- though he failed -- Joe Lovano is let off with a warning. Let it serve as a warning to others as well.

Case adjourned.

Review content copyright © 2004 Elizabeth Skipper; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 60

Perp Profile
Studio: BMI
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)

* None

Running Time: 31 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

* None