Monday, July 10, 2006

DVD's Bob Dylan - No Direction Home (PBS, 2005) and Jazz Casual: John Coltrane (Rhino, 2003)

Netflix has been getting some very interesting music material and really beefing up their offerings. The Dylan film was directed and produced by Martin Scorsese and became quite the media event when it was released last year. Extensive interviews with Dylan (appearing clear-minded and lucid) are intercut with concert footage and and interviews with contemporaries for a compelling portrait. Much like the D.A. Pennebreaker film Don't Look Back, many of the scenes display the sheer insanity that surrounded Dylan as he broke through from the folk scene into the pop consciousness. Dylan pulls no punches in the interviews and seemingly has no regrets and it's fascinating to see how he reinvented himself as a musician and a persona. Anyone with an interest in modern music should make some time for this film.

The Coltrane film is hosted by the pipe-puffing, cardigan wearing jazz critic Ralph J. Gleason and is very valuable as there is not very much film footage of the great Coltrane quartet with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones available. The footage in in clear black and white and the band is in excellent form, beginning with Mongo Santamaria's "Afro Blue" before performing a very moving version of "Alabama" and finishing up with a burning take on "Impressions." Though very short, this is mandatory viewing for fans of modern jazz.

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