Eagle Rock Entertainment // 2004 // 238 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // December 2nd, 2009
Four legendary guitarists. Three concerts. One magical night.
I'm not sure when it happened, but at some point, I went from being a little kid sitting in the back of our family station wagon rolling my eyes at my father's musical choices to realizing that I love classical music and jazz. I think it's because some forms of music, especially jazz, are the music of life, experience and emotional highs and lows.
Founded in 1967 and featuring mainly jazz artists, the first Montreux Jazz Festival lasted for just one weekend. The musical scope began to broaden in the 70s, attracting performers like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Prince and many other acts. The Festival changed again in the 80s, expanding to a full three-week run, while continuing to attract a diverse mix of musicians from Wynton Marsalis and Mike Oldfield to Nina Hagen, Los Lobos and The Manhattan Transfer. Montreux has now become one of the most expansive and well-known music festivals in the world.
What could be better than Carlos Santana playing live at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2004? How about Santana hosting not one, but three full concerts performed by legendary jazz artists Bobby Parker, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and Buddy Guy. Joined by other musicians and Santana himself, Parker, Brown, and Guy treated fans to nearly four hours of toe-tapping, soulful jamming. Carlos Santana Presents Blues at Montreux 2004 brings that special night home for jazz fans to enjoy in the comfort of their living room for years to come.
Best known for his 1961 hit song "Watch Your Step," which has since been covered by Carlos Santana, Dr. Feelgood, and the Spencer Davis Group, Bobby Parker's career spans an amazing 50 years. Santana cites Parker as his inspiration for playing guitar and regards him as "one of the few remaining guitarists on this planet who can pierce your heart and soothe your soul."
Parker opens the concert with the following set list:
* "Straight Up No Chaser"
* "Break It Up"
* "Breaking Up Somebody's Home"
* "Nothing But The Blues"
* "So Glad I found You"
* "I Ain't Superstitious"
* "It's Unfair"
* "Going Down Slow"
* "Chill Out" (featuring Carlos Santana)
* "Mellow Down Easy" (featuring Carlos Santana)
* "Watch Your Step" (featuring Carlos Santana)
The first thing viewers will notice about Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown when he takes to the stage is the distinct western vibe, not only in his black hat and clothes, but as a thread of influence in his music as well. Tragically, Brown passed away in 2005, but leaves the legacy of a Grammy-winning musician who was equally skilled at guitar, fiddle, violin, harmonica and drums.
Brown takes to the stage with the following numbers:
* "Bits And Pieces"
* "Strange Things Happen"
* "I'm Beginning To See The Light"
* "Sunrise Cajun Style"
* "Honey Boy"
* "Further On Up The Road"
* "I've Got My Mojo Working" (featuring Carlos Santana and Buddy Guy)
* "Drifter" (featuring Carlos Santana)
* "Grape Jelly" (featuring Carlos Santana)
* "Okie Dokie Stomp" (featuring Carlos Santana and Nile Rodgers)
With an amazing 64-album catalog to his name, Buddy Guy is not only a five-time Grammy Award winner, but is also cited as the inspiration for other legendary musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and a host of other guitarists. Ranked 30th on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time," Guy is also an impressive showman who enjoys connecting with his audience on a very personal level, at times even going so far as to bring audience members onstage to strum his guitar while he fingers the frets.
Guy rounds out the Montreux trifecta with the following selections, tying it all up in a bow with some amazing jam sessions:
* "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl"
* "Louise McGhee"
* "Done Got Old"
* "Hoochie Coochie Man"
* "Drowning On Dry Land"
* "Stormy Monday" (featuring Carlos Santana)
* Jam Session 1 (featuring Carlos Santana & Bobby Parker)
* "So Many Roads So Many Trains" (featuring Carlos Santana & Bobby Parker)
* Jam Session 2 (featuring Carlos Santana, Nile Rodgers & Bobby Parker)
Unless you were one of the lucky crowd members on that magical July night in 2004, the chances of seeing these four performers were slim to none, and since Mr. Brown's passing, Blues at Montreux has become that much more special. Parker, Brown, Guy, and Santana are truly in the upper echelon of both jazz musicians and guitarists. While spending almost four hours steeped in jazz won't be everyone's choice, discerning music fans will find the time goes by almost too quickly.
The video presentation is decent overall, but predominantly lit in blue and orange, with a bit of fog thrown in for added effect, the stage footage is somewhat soft. Crowd shots from the back of the venue are also dark and don't really demonstrate the clarity of the HD image. Fortunately, the picture really pops during on-stage close ups of the performers and that's really what this release is all about. Granted, the musical style is more subdued than a rock or pop concert, but the DTS-HD mix comes across somewhat flat, anchored in the front with little use of the surround or LFE channels. Aside from the concerts themselves, which really provide a significant value and a wealth of content, there are no additional features of any kind.
Nearly four solid hours of jazz woven together by four legendary guitarists. For jazz fans, especially those who like their jazz to have a pinch of rock thrown in Blues at Montreux is not only a must-see, but also very likely a must-own as well.
Review content copyright © 2009 Kent Dixon; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080i)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* PCM 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 238 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated