Case Number 22634: Small Claims Court


MVD Visual // 1984 // 51 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge P.S. Colbert // October 29th, 2011

The Charge

"Music is the space between the notes." -- composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

Opening Statement

I'm no jazzbo. When essayist Mike Hennessey, in this disc's accompanying booklet, says of tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims that "He seals the performance with a rallentando which lingers on the major seventh and then finally falls into the dominant," I can only assume that one of us knows what he's talking about.

The Case

Dateline: Stockholm, Sweden. 21 November 1984

Zoot holds court in the library of Stockholm, Sweden's Sonet studio headquarters, for what would prove his final concert appearance (the jazz legend would die on 23 March 1985 at age 59), jamming with guitarist Rune Gustafsson and double bassist Red Mitchell.

The Setlist:
* "In A Sentimental Mood" (Duke Ellington)
* "Gone With The Wind" (Allie Wrubel, Herbert Magidson)
* "Castle Blues" (Zoot Sims)
* "Sweet Lorraine" (Clifford Burwell, Mitchell Parish)
* "Tis Autumn" (Henry Nemo)
* "Autumn Leaves" (Joseph Kosma, Johnny Mercer, Jacques Prevert)

The setting is relaxed, with the trio sitting and facing one another, trading smiles and solos through this set of standards. As I've said, I'm no jazzbo, but I needn't have worried, because all that's required of audiences here is a love for great music played superbly without competition and ego getting in the way.

Interspersed throughout are bits of an off-the-cuff interview of Zoot by Mitchell. The talk is largely anecdotal, (the pair had been friends onstage and off for decades) but no less illuminating and highly entertaining to boot.

The full frame standard definition picture leaves much to be desired. Who knows what equipment this was shot and edited on, but one gets the feeling this mini-concert was captured on VHS for archival purposes without thought for how well it would age visually. There were times I felt as if I were viewing the program through a screen door, the dominant color of everything (including the people) seems to be burnt sienna, and the "intimate lighting" combined with Mitchell's black pullover, serves to render him a floating head and pair of hands gliding over the neck of his fretless instrument.

Sadly, a number of close-up shots were employed, depriving viewers of the chance to see the trio fully engaged with one another, but considering the audio bounty (which is richly represented in Dolby 2.0 Stereo for this release) this seems a minor quibble.

Ironically, this critic's true dilemma is the knowledge that the less said about Zoot Sims: In A Sentimental Mood the better. Let the music do the talking!

The Verdict

Guilty as hell, and all the better for it; Case dismissed!

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Scales of Justice
Judgment: 85

Perp Profile
Studio: MVD Visual
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* None

Running Time: 51 Minutes
Release Year: 1984
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Booklet

* IMDb