Jazz icons DVDs

The recently released third box in the DVD series (Reelin’ in the Years, Naxos), a collection of European concerts by American jazz musicians videotaped during the ’60s and ’70s, is a must for jazz fans.

This box shows seven of the finest talents in modern jazz during what has to be considered the golden era of modern jazz development. Each disc runs between 60 to 100 minutes on seven individual DVDs, each devoted to a different artist, with an eighth bonus disc collecting other performances and interviews.

“Sonny Rollins, Live in ’65 & ’68”

Four and a half stars

The first disc shows a young and vibrant Rollins in concerts in Denmark 1965 in a piano-less setting with Niel Orsted Pedersen on bass and Alan Dawson on drums. Rollins, asked in an interview on the bonus disc why there was no piano, tactfully explained, “Because where I want to go in my experimentation at this time the piano chords tend to get in the way. That’s not saying there are not great pianists.” For Denmark’s 1968 concert, he finally added pianist Kenny Drew.

“Oscar Peterson Live, ’63, ’64 & ’65”

Four and a half stars

The late, great Oscar Peterson was at his peak during these three concerts recorded in Sweden (1963), Denmark (1964) and Finland (1965) with his finest trio of Ray Brown on bass and Ed Thigpen on drums. This trio was fearless, tackling breathtaking tempos and swinging with a fury before making an abrupt about-face into a tender ballad. Trumpeters Roy Eldridge and Clark Terry make guest appearances.

Each DVD comes with a 24-page booklet containing rare photographs and informative essays by noted jazz historians.

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