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andyray (Brighton UK)

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Twin Peaks - The Entire Mystery [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Twin Peaks - The Entire Mystery [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Kyle MacLachlan
Price: £44.00

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous, but...., 10 Sep 2014
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This landmark series warrants a mandatory 5-stars IMHO, and the new presentation in Blu-ray is in many ways beautiful.

However, playing this in 'auto' on my pioneer plasma screen, the transfer automatically plays in a 'standard 4.3' format with vertical bars on either side of the picture. To be sure, I can switch the setting to 'wide' which stretches the picture to fill the screen completely, however, during some motion scenes, this results in a gentle warping of the frames. This I can live with: I would rather have the gorgeous colours of David Lynch's landmark series in HD.

However, there are some episodes in S2 where the sound is irritating as the dialogue is out of synch with the speaker - something that I assumed would been ironed-out 100% given an upgraded Blu-ray format. It is only intermittent, although leaves me disappointed, given that such a hauntingly brilliant series - that has finally arrived in Blu-ray - should remain imperfect given Lynch's own standards of perfection.

Still, the entire packaging and colour palate (like within the Great Northern) are amazing and, above al, it is a treat to watch the uniformed Major Briggs (the late, great, Don S. Davis) wisely philosophise in the Hopperesque diner with his wayward son, Bobby, (Dana Ashbrook) as the gorgeous Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton) looks on and the iconic Log Lady awaits at the counter!

Dreamily beguiling, as always!

The Sopranos - Complete Collection [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
The Sopranos - Complete Collection [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ James Gandolfini
Price: £99.99

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MANDATORY!, 10 Sep 2014
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At last, a truly AMAZING and beautiful transfer 100% worthy of this essential landmark series.

I report this as, IMHO, the pilot and earlier episodes of Season 1 in DVD format were at times a touch grainy and 'flat' - more like 'video' quality in some scenes - a factor exacerbated by the way in which 'we' are now viewing TV shows on far higher quality flat-screen TVs that reveal imperfections. Moreover, at times were some issues with the sound in terms of vocal synchronisation on DVD.

However, all of this has thankfully and gloriously been repaired and re-mastered to a level of absolute cinematic perfection.

From the iconic title scene, the picture is truly stunning and the pulsating music rich and exciting, with the anamorphic depth and colour palate of episode1, like a series of Caravaggio paintings!

This is one of the most satisfying and gorgeous transfers and Blu-ray releases I have ever had the pleasure to watch and, with it arriving yesterday, I am so besotted that I stayed in last evening and am already nearly on to S2!

A must-have IMHO for any fans of these truly brilliant series. 10/10

2012 PANASONIC CODEFREE DMP-BD87 w Built-in Wi-Fi MultiZone Region Code Free DVD 012345678 PAL/NTSC Blu Ray Zone A/B/C. DivX XviD AVI and MKV Playback and Support. 100~240V 50/60Hz comes with EU & UK plugs (Free HDMi Cable)
2012 PANASONIC CODEFREE DMP-BD87 w Built-in Wi-Fi MultiZone Region Code Free DVD 012345678 PAL/NTSC Blu Ray Zone A/B/C. DivX XviD AVI and MKV Playback and Support. 100~240V 50/60Hz comes with EU & UK plugs (Free HDMi Cable)
Price: £299.99

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!, 26 Feb 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The two reviews above/below completely sum-up this amazing, genuine, Panasonic multi-region Blu-ray/DVD player.

Having started with a top-end Toshiba HD player when the whole Blu-ray/HD thing emerged,together with a top-end Denon multi-region DVD player, this is now the third Blu-player I have owned and, irrespective of the cost, this is by far and away the BEST player I have ever owned of all types.

Structurally, it is slim, light, and SO, SO easy to set-up in every possible aspect - it was playing my first zone A Blu-ray disc in 10 minutes of the player arriving. In comparison to my old Pioneer Blu-ray player, that cost 3 times as much, it is SO fast and user-friendly to use. It boots-up in a few seconds -yes, seconds! - and discs start to play almost immediately. The remote control is mega-simple to use and switching regions is EASY and done when the player is switched-off: you simply press the appropriate "region number", then press "on", and it plays immediately. There's NO faffing around waiting for the machine to load the disc with messages like "reading disc" etc. It is amazingly hassle-free and, to reiterate, very fast.

Importantly, the picture and sound quality easily match my previous expensive Pioneer player and for the cost, and for anyone who wants to play Blu-ray zone A (USA) discs as I do - (eg. Criterion Collection Blu-ray discs) - this player is a godsend.

I cannot recommend this player highly enough and the packaging and delivery were exemplary.


Sleeper - Tokyo, April 16, 1979
Sleeper - Tokyo, April 16, 1979
Offered by Side Two
Price: £14.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning!, 5 Aug 2012
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This recording is ESSENTIAL for any Keith Jarrett or Jan Garbarek fan. IMHO this is one of Jarrett's top-ten recordings within a huge catalogue and, in a year's time I anticipate that it might even consolidate within my personal top-five - it's that good.

Indeed, this is essential for any lover of (modern) jazz.

If, like me, you wondered over the decades how the story-telling beauty of the definitive 'Belonging' and 'My song' (studio) albums might have translated when performed 'live', then this gets close - very close indeed. I mention this as, whilst the 'live' 'Nude Ants' recording together with 'Personal Mountains' remain wonderful and important, there is a tendency sometimes for the music to meander and lose focus somehow, or even to try a bit too hard, particularly during passages of 'Nude Ants'. With 'Sleeper', however, this fabulous quartet are in the so-called, 'zone' throughout this concert and there is an sheer abundance of musical creativity that leaves one awe-inspired.

Characteristic of ECM, this excellent 'live' recording (and gorgeous, sonorous piano) captures the musicians as they stretch-out. Garbarek is unleashed and seems at-ease and confident in this setting: his tone on tenor to 'die for', complete with long probing, driving lines, and characteristic icy-toned over-blowings fueled by Jarrett's constantly inventive playing and accompaniment - not forgetting the dazzling support from the excellent Palle Danielsson and Jon Christensen. Garbarek's extraordinary, unmistakable tenor playing is characteristically organised, yet open to further possibilities within the spaces the compositions allow and, at times, despite Garbarek's unique voice and tone, I wondered if I was listening instead to Wayne Shorter at his best given Garbarek's inventiveness and shadings of light and dark.

Importantly, it is Keith Jarrett who is also on top-form: an effervescent form of musical ADHD: surging, busy, lyrical, mercurial, romantic and deliciously delicate at times; classical, and ever-ransacking the history of jazz piano with his torrent of musical ideas: a cascade of inventiveness that would equal Michael Phelps' achievements of Olympic Gold medals if 'jazz' were an Olympic event! There's also something deeply joyous to their playing avoiding some of the darker, melancholic landscapes that some of Jarrett's later recordings often inhabit.

'Sleeper' is rather like and echoes his legendary 'Koln Concert' in a quartet form given its sheer energy and exhuberance and grips one's attention from the start. There's a fabulous version of Jarrett's bouyant 'So tender', a composition that famously opens his excellent Trio recording, 'Standards Vol 2', and this time, Garbarek's solo adds much fire to this pretty piece following the gentle prelude, and Jarrett's Evanesque chords reminds the listener of his relationship to the heritage of the late, great Bill Evans, (and his own solo on (side 2) of his brilliant 'The Survivors' Suite'). And then there's the 'aftermath' as this gorgeous piece concludes: hypnotic; moving, and wonderfully devoid of self-consciousness. An epilogue of pure beauty and definitive Keith Jarrett!

The Best Jazz cd release of 2012. Period. Thank you ECM!

Price: £16.65

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning "Stand" that Swings!, 26 July 2009
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This review is from: STAND ! (Audio CD)
This new release from the wonderful Eric Reed is particularly upbeat and strong. The opening title track, "Stand", is like hearing Tyner in the mid-80s when he had his own brilliant trio: a wonderful modal composition that has that classic Tyner left-hand ballast chord playing combined with wonderful right hand virtuosity.

But Reed is far from simply a Tyner facsimile: he has his own very soulful, lyrical, and Spiritual voice, with strong hints of Gospel; Ahmad Jamal, and the wonderful(and underrated) Phineas Newborn Jr. There's varied selection of compositions (all by Eric Reed) that calm the initial Tyner storm, and both Rodney Whitikar on bass, and Willie Jones III on drums are superb, having been part of Eric Reed's trio for some years now. (For those interested, the previous release on Maxjazz called "Here" captures this trio exceptionally as they stretch-out further on that set).

Eric Reed is one of the best jazz pianists around and continues to grow and, 'outside' of the respective Brad Mehldau and Keith Jarrett trios, keeps the torch burning of the classic trio format going back to Garner; Evans; Oscar; and those heavyweight legends mentioned above, especially the Genius of McCoy. Just listen to Eric Reed on #4 "Git'cha Shout On"...touches of a young Tyner on the classic Blue Note album "Time for Tyner" playing "the Surrey with the Fringe on Top"! And he really SWINGS!!!

Wonderful! Andyray

Youssou N'Dour - Return To Goree [2008] [DVD]
Youssou N'Dour - Return To Goree [2008] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Pierre-Yves Borgeaud
Price: £19.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars roots, 11 May 2009
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This is a remarkable 2- disc DVD not only for jazz and world music fans, but also as a wonderful piece of documentary cinema. It has the same type of feel and depth as Wim Wenders', Buena Vista Social Club with Ry Cooder et al. and in similar mood, unsentimentally gives an uplifting account of the journey literally made by Youssou D'Nour and musician friends. It's a history lesson of sorts that has profound messages for us to absorb.

On disc 1, and with 'jazz' arrangements by the talented Tunisian pianist, Moncef Genoud, Youssou explores the roots and African rhythms that 'left' Goree in the slave-trade era and traces their developments across the Carribean; Atlanta; New Orleans, and New York, examining the connections with Mardis Gras; Gospel; and with the legendary jazz drummer Idris Mohammed, their so-called cross-fertilisation into jazz and funk music. This also includes a meeting with the legendary poet Amiri Baraka in NYC.

With various superb American jazz musicians on board, (including Idris who's so wonderful) they make a return journey from the USA to Goree and integrate with the African musicians: drummers, singers etc, and the 'circle' is complete so to speak.

Disc 2 has good extras including worthwhile interviews with the musicians and an excellent concert of their music. Enjoy!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 7, 2013 2:36 PM GMT

More Jazz
More Jazz
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £10.74

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ballamy at his best!, 22 Dec 2007
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This review is from: More Jazz (Audio CD)
Over the last 25 years or so the brilliant Iain Ballamy has shone on the British jazz scene. He's always been an 'act' to see and hear whatever the context he's playing in, and this recent release shows him playing as 'straight-ahead' -tenor saxophone quartet jazz as one's likely to hear, particularly given Iain's approach to playing (and composing/writing) is as intellectually, teasingly off-field/centre as it comes! (Arguably, Monk would have loved his approach).

This CD exemplifies Iain's Shorteresque majesty on tenor: his tone rich and memorable: his range dynamic and always musical: his voicing and ideas constantly evolving and turning forwards, backwards -inside-out and yet remaining coherent as the shape of the music changes and reforms.

However, it is also the beautiful support of the trio that makes the music really come alive. Pianist Gareth Williams, bassist Orlando Le Fleming and Martin France on drums, respectively, will hardly need an introduction to those with a finger on the pulse of UK jazz: suffice it to say their playing is amazing: a perfect foil for the trajectories Iain's solos take.

The 9 tracks offer diversity from a be-bop, (Mehldauesque) reworking of 'My way', and the 'Classic quartet'-esquee brilliant and characteristically titled, 'Tribute to Alan Skimore's tribute to John Coltrane'. There's also the genius of the tango-like 'Convolution (for Dudley Moore). The album is just the right length at 53 minutes; is exquisitely produced and packaged and, as they say in this day and age, is a 'must have' for any lover of (modern)jazz. As always with Iain's music, 'standards' are reworked, hinted at and flirted with in the most delicious way that maintains constant intrigue, freshness and swing.

This CD contains special music and if you want to hear some of the best tenor saxophone quartet music in 2007 then this is for you. Brilliant!!

Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £8.96

32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best jazz album of the year?, 4 Dec 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Perception (Audio CD)
Fresh, fluid, inventive and quite simply stunning! This is a fantastic release by a musician who has not just the technique, but also a deep creative sense of composing; shaping the music and, importantly, letting it 'breathe'. If you like Keith Jarrett, particualrly with his 70s Scandanavian quartet; Brad Mehldau; the late-90s Branford Marsalis Qt with the late, great Kenny Kirkland on piano,or the melodic, brightness of another deeply missed genius, Michel Petrucianni, together with a splash of Weather Report on one number, then this is guaranteed to make you smile.

There's such a wealth of lovely musical things going on throughout this album. To be sure, some might prefer to hear a bit more of Gwilym (and I would strongly recommend the excellent Spike Wells trio cd 'Reverance' if this is the case)- but the album is worth it alone just for his trio reworking of the standard,'The way you look tonight! Moreover, Gwilym's backing the other musicians is a marvel, rather like watching George Best weave his way through an opposition's defense with breathtaking spontaneity.

The musicians playing are world class: John Parricelli is as strong and versatile as ever on guitar, and Martin France and Phil Donkin on drums and bass respectively, are perfect for Gwilym's style. Arguably the biggest bonus on this disc is the beautifully rich saxophone playing of Stan Sulzmann who's rather like a 'warm' Garbarek on tenor, and who's own music just gets better and better. The music is wonderfully brought to life by an excellent production by Jason Yarde, and sleeve design and notes that complement and complete what is, in my opinion, 69 minutes and 16 seconds of special musical creativity.

Political Theorists in Context
Political Theorists in Context
by Chris Sparks
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £105.56

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely academic gem and a 'must have'., 16 Dec 2006
The erudite Mr. Isaacs and Sparks have furnished the world of political science with a stunning, concise and academically rich text book that will undoubtably be of huge interest to respective under and post-graduate students trying to grapple with the arguments of some of history's 'heavyweight' social and political thinkers. Part of the fascination, here, is the way in which they have placed the philosopher's arguments within the prevailing social and political landscape specific to the individual, thus giving a 'hatstand' on which one can make sense of the thinker's work. In this modern world, a notion close to Mr. Isaacs' argumentative core, this book stands head and shoulders above most of the dull books that characteristically fill the university library shelves and, rather like a Tarrantino film, one waits in excitement for their next dynamic release.

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