Live in Concert
is a feature-length (98 minutes) release edited from two concerts given by the jazz superstar line-up of Jack DeJohnette, Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland and Pat Metheny at the Mellon Jazz festival, Academy of Music, Philadelphia on June 23, 1990. This was part of an outstanding world tour following up drummer DeJohnette's Parallel Realities
album, though this programme and the original album only have two cuts in common, "Indigo Dreamscapes" and "Nine Over Reggae". Hancock (piano and keyboards) and Metheny (guitar) were both on Parallel Realities
but here contribute material from their own back catalogue: Hancock a barnstorming 15-minute "Hurricane" and the closing "Cantaloupe Island", Metheny offering the appropriately nocturnal and reflective "The Bat". Bassist Dave Holland, who was the guest on the tour, introduces the sequence with the longest cut, "Shadow Dance". Here are four of the world's finest modern jazz artists at the top of their game; virtuoso playing certainly, but also impeccable taste and artistry, seamless interaction and inspired music-making. When combined with a transparent, gimmick-free visual style, which simply shows the musicians playing, concentrating on whoever is soloing to offer the best seat in the house, the result is an uplifting, exhilarating example of how well jazz can be presented on DVD.
On the DVD: there are no special features other than a trailer for two classical DVDs, and as such the disc starts playing automatically, allowing it to be used like a particularly long live album without even turning the TV on. Unusually for 1990 the concert was shot at 16:9 and is presented anamorphically enhanced for widescreen TVs, though nothing can disguise the relative softness of live video shot under concert lighting, nor the occasional after-images left by the lighting. The stereo sound is absolutely first-rate, and that's what really counts.--Gary S. Dalkin