Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Brecker, Steps Ahead = modern jazz history - don't hesitate
Ian Martin | Auckland New Zealand | 12/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This live performance of Steps Ahead was filmed back in April 1983 in Copenhagen's Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum. We can be very grateful that this was re-released by Idem Home video on DVD as this recording is not only the most significant body of work featuring Michael Brecker in the early 80's, but also the only one featuring him with this lineup of Steps Ahead. What a great performance of all these musicians.
The debut Steps Ahead album released the same year is covered in its entirety in this performance. The only track not covered is 'Trio (An improvisation)'. This DVD has the additional track, the beautiful, 'Sarah's Touch', (which I think I remember Brecker played with Yellowjackets at Montreux).
The players featured are a young Eddie Gomez, Peter Erskine, Mike Mainieri, Brecker with an almost full mop of hair and an even younger, Eliane Elias on piano.(She was eighteen at the time!) This is a strictly acoustic affair and it's a joy to see the visual interaction between the players. Watching Mike Mainieri on vibes is especially amazing as there is so much action. Clearly seeing a musician helps your listening and the intimate, close footage of each of these artists as they take solos is very good and never frustrating. At times I'd have liked to have seen more of Brecker's hand rather than his face, but I am not complaining as I am more than relieved there are almost no arty fades or 80's video effects. One warning: the initial two minutes of the DVD has the performance audio playing while the footage shows the band arriving at the museum and walking past museum pieces. This is the only time we have this - the rest of the 56 minutes is focused on them. (Well, there are two occasions, like start of `Sarah's touch' where the camera man was tempted into panning to film plants and surroundings but I assure you this is all.)
It may be a live performance but there is no audience and so this is as close to the studio album in terms of sound quality. The main difference is slightly more improvisation but on the whole Steps Ahead adhere exactly to the songs structure as on album. Admittedly this is just in stereo but somehow is appropriate for this intimate acoustic affair. At the start of the DVD there is a note to state that the sound was digitally remastered and taken from analog tapes. The sound recording I think is good and even in the most intense crescendos of play, there is good sound separation of the instruments. Bass drum pedal is sufficiently audible yet at the same time the deft brush stroke, the woody double bass and ringing vibes seem to have their own space and depth.
Yes, this a great concert performance and drummers will appreciate seeing Peter Erskine have the opportunity to stretch out. Watch for his solo in the final track after the initial film credits! This is great jazz history and I treasure this for the playing of Michael Brecker. This is prior to his experimentation with EWI and shows him playing both sensitively and ripping it up in his inimitable way. He was already a master then.