Eddie Landsberg | Tokyo, Japan | 12/24/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"So much for German Technology - - I wonder if this is a second generation thing ???
Its always great to see a rarity from the archives... but..
The band is MUCH MUCH MUCH tighter and kicking on the version of Duke playing for his 70'th Birthday in Paris... group seems a bit tired on this one... Not that that's how they were sounding on that tour... but you get the impression they were really jet lag... and were feeling a bit uneasy... To boot camera shots are louzy...
Johnny Hodges is amply featured on both sets... and that's a HUGE plus... but as for Wild Bill (a rare chance to see him in action) - - front shots through most of the solos - - only a few seconds of the keyboards... then on Satin Doll the camera focuses on Duke Ellington dancing as opposed to Wild Bill. Picture quality is also a bit dark and fuzzy and you can tell the concern it cut to pieces (for whatever reason !)
All in all to bill the DVD as BERLIN CONCERT *FEATURING* WILD BILL DAVIS is a RIP OFF... It should have said FEATURING Johnny Hodges... that would have been true and good enough reason to get it... sadly just a few months before his death but he definitely was sounding as great as ever. - - But by definition when the the featured player only gets two songs and the camera isn't even shooting him its pathetic. (Ironically there's a shot of the camera that was filming the keyboard... who knows... maybe the footage went missing or was stolen... still....)
Oh... and Paul Gonsalves is there... but doesn't get his moment in the spot and most the time even when he's backing the camera shots have him blocked off (then again, its possible that there was a reason...)
That aside... The second "bonus" set, featuring Duke Ellington in Holland circa 1958 does have the band cooking (Clark Terry is on that set!) Ray Nance and Ozzie Bailey get vocal numbers - - violinist is uncredited unless my eyes are missing something.
What's also disappointing is the fact that most of the flaws with the audio (hissing) and the visual probably could have been cleaned up using Software that just about everyone who owns a Mac has on their computer.
Conclusion: Thanks for getting it out of the vaults... and despite a bad review, this is a great documentation of legends at work who are still legends (even on a rainy day) but..."