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Category:    Home > Reviews > Music > Concert > Jazz > Classical > Opera > Comedy > Farce > Satire > Hot Jazz Jumpers: The Very Next Thing (2015/On The Bol Records DVD/CD Set)/Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 ''Eroica''/Bruggen (1987/ArtHaus)/Europakonzert 04/Rattle/Barenboim (2004/EuroArts)/A Gershwin Ni

Hot Jazz Jumpers: The Very Next Thing (2015/On The Bol Records DVD/CD Set)/Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 ''Eroica''/Bruggen (1987/ArtHaus)/Europakonzert 04/Rattle/Barenboim (2004/EuroArts)/A Gershwin Night/Ozawa/Berliner Philharmoniker (2003/EuroArts)/Mahler: Das Lied Von Der Erde/Davis (1988/ArtHaus)/Rossini: Il Signor Bruschino/Rustioni (2015/Opus Arte/Naxos Blu-rays)

Picture: C+/C+/B-/C+/C+/B Sound: B-/C+/B/B/C+/B Extras: C-/C-/C+/C+/C-/C+ Main Programs: B-/C+/B/B/B-/B

Now for a new set of Jazz and Classical releases you should know about...

Hot Jazz Jumpers: The Very Next Thing (2015) is a new DVD/CD Set from the independent label On The Bol Records featuring the Jazz vocal band (led by Nick Russo) delivering some key classics and doing a pretty decent job of it. Benita Hershey is the lead singer as they cover the likes of Caravan, Sweet Georgia Brown, Jam For Lenny, Ain't Misbehavin' and a clever variation on When The Red Red Robin [Comes Bob Bob Bobbin' Along] among the 17 tracks on the CD. We get six clips on the DVD, but I wanted more, especially since there was room. Still, this is a revival band worth looking out for and their energy reminded me of The Manhattan Transfer, as well as the great cover albums cycle that started with better releases in the early 1980s like Linda Ronstadt's What's New, so this set is definitely worth your time. Solid musicianship too!

Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 ''Eroica'' (1987) conducted by Frans Bruggen conducting an outfit dubbed 'Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century' is one of two release on this list that takes an older program recorded on analog videotape and upscales it for Blu-ray release. This is going to deliver a better-storage version of the program versus any VHS, Beta, DVD or 12'' LaserDisc edition, but how good is the upgrade is the question. Like many of these older releases, this one runs only 52 minutes and is not a bad performance of the piece, even if I would not call it definitive. However, the sound is still a little distorted and the video still a bit rough, so unless this is a favorite performance of the piece you really want, you'll be disappointed.

Europakonzert 04 (2004) is a fine, older HD-recorded concert that brings together two of the biggest names in Classical Music: Simon Rattle and Daniel Barenboim with The Berliner Philharmoniker delivering 127 minutes of Brahams in superior style, form and depth (they're grasp of the classics is definitive every time out) at the Atticus Theater situated at no less than the bottom of the legendary ancient Acropolis Stadium in Greece. Greece looks good and this sounds good. Though the image has not aged as well as it could have, this is one of the best installments of the Europakonzert series and is recommended as one of the best ways to introduce yourself to the series.

A Gershwin Night (2003) features Conductor Seiji Ozawa with The Berliner Philharmoniker (second time on this list) delivering 111 minutes of George Gershwin classics like An American In Paris, Rhapsody In Blue, Concerto In F, Strike Up The Band and I Got Rhythm in a smooth, solid show that captures the quiet grandness of the composers work and style in a pleasant setting with a good audience. If you are a fan of Gershwin, you'll probably enjoy the show and the great musicians who make up the orchestra, but it might be more than enough or too much for those who do not. I am with the former group impressed by the classiness of the show and recommend it.

Mahler: Das Lied Von Der Erde (1988 aka Song Of The Earth) is the other analog-taped performance upscaled for Blu-ray (which does NOT make it HD, but can look decent like Eagle's SD Blu series of Rock/Pop releases) has Sir Colin Davis conducting the Symphonieorchester des Bayerisch Rundfunks with vocal guests Doris Soffel and Kenneth Riegel runs 74 minutes-long and is a slightly better upscaling of an older work that is not as seen or performed. Considering it is Gustav Mahler, that I a bit of a surprise, yet it is not his greatest work, though it is a decent, solid one. It may not be of your preference, but it is nice to have a well-rounded enough version that brings the piece alive with passion and honesty. Definitely worth a look.

Finally we have Rossini: Il Signor Bruschino (2015) modernizing the satirical opera with Daniele Rustioni conducting and Director Teatro Sotterraneo (whose theory on comedy in opera is scholarly and even brilliant in his interview in the bonus featurette) is a combination that works on its own terms as a fin farce involving tourists that wants to have you leave your brain at the door without being dumb, dumbed-down or anti-intellectual. Not for all tastes, I thought it worked well, I liked its attitude and it is on of the few modernized productions I actually thought worked among the many we've seen over the years. It is worth your time for something different and a must for serious Rossini fans.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Jazz is just fine for a music DVD and has good color and clarity, if little details are not always there and you get a little motion blur. All the Blu-rays are in 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers save the 1080p 1.78 X 1 on Signor, which easily looks the best of all the releases here. Eroica and Lied are actually standard old video recordings (likely analog PAL format) 1.33 X 1 recordings upscaled and centered in the 1.78 X 1 frame (which is why the Jazz DVD can equal it), but Gershwin is actually an old HD shoot with far more motion blur than it ought to have.

As for sound, the Jazz CD and DVD have PCM 2.0 Stereo that is about equal, but it is a little harsh on the DVD, while it is more naturalistic on the CD, though I wish it were transferred a bit louder. Eroica and Lied are PCM 2.0 Stereo-only presentations as well and show their age being the poorest performers, leaving the remaining Blu-rays with DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes that have good, solid, consistent soundfields, are very well recorded and superior to their PCM 2.0 Stereo track versions.

Extras in all six releases include illustrated booklets on each of the releases, while Gershwin, Signor and Europakonzert add Making Of featurette documentaries and Signor also adds a Cast Gallery.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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