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Legends: Live At Montreux 1997(1997)
Legends is one of the most musically accomplished super groups of all time. With Eric Clapton on guitar, Joe Sample of The Crusaders on keyboards, virtuoso saxophone player David Sanborn and super session players Steve Gadd on drums and Marcus Miller on bass, both of whom have done time in Clapton’s band, the group’s pedigree is extraordinary. Marcus Miller put the Legends band together for a European tour in 1997. They never made an album and this concert at Montreux is the only record of their stunning collaboration. The music is an intoxicating blend of jazz, blues and rock, which gives each of the players a chance to shine but also emphasizes the wonderful chemistry they create as a group.
1 - Full House
2 - Groovin’
3 - Ruthie
4 - Snakes
5 - Going Down Slow
6 - The Peeper
7 - In Case You Hadn’t Noticed
8 - Third Degree
9 - First Song / Tango Blues
10 - Put It Where You Want It
11 - Shreveport Stomp
12 - In A Sentimental Mood / Layla
13 - Every Day I Have The Blues
For more about Legends: Live At Montreux 1997 and the Legends: Live At Montreux 1997 Blu-ray release, see the Legends: Live At Montreux 1997 Blu-ray Review
Legends: Live At Montreux 1997 Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, September 20, 2008
In 1997 five true legends of contemporary music – Eric Clapton (guitar/voice), Marcus Miller (bass), David Sanborn (sax), Joe Sample (keyboards), and Steve Gadd (percussions) – all got together and staged one of a kind show at the Montreux Jazz Festival which will likely be remembered for as long as the festival is in existence. Now eleven years later Eagle Rock Entertainment offer the entire show for the first time ever on Blu-ray disc.
It is difficult not to be excited simply by looking at the cover for Legends. Five incredible musicians who have sold millions of records around the world collaborating on stage for the first time at a major festival is always big news. It is even bigger news when they perform for nearly two hours skipping from old favorites (Layla) to wild gems (Groovin') that would throw in ecstasy even the most cold-hearted of crowds. And in 1997 the crowd at the Jazz Festival in Montreux was anything but cold-hearted.
Legends – Live at Montreux offers thirteen songs where Eric Clapton, Marcus Miller, David Sanborn, Joe Sample, and Steve Gadd embark on a wild musical journey through a number of different genres. From blues to jazz to funk to rock the band skips through an amazing set of performances some of which are uniquely arranged with mind-boggling improvisations proving why these guys are the best of the best. Indeed, once you start watching this terrific set you will quickly understand why music aficionados praise the magnificent five every chance they get.
Yet, I must confess that Legends was quite a shocking experience for me when I first bought the CD a couple of years ago. Not because I did not know what these fabulous musicians are capable of but because it is impossible to predict what direction they would follow once they start improvising. And believe me improvisation is a big part of their game.
Much to my satisfaction, Legends was a pure gem from start to finish. The songs were all quite diverse and representative of the genres each of the performers is best known for. Not surprisingly, they all complimented each other with fitting improvisations that you will quickly realize is what makes this show an amazing experience. Indeed, there are key performances in Legends, such as the elaborate Marcus Miller solo, that one can immediately tell had the entire audience in the Montreux venue holding its collective breath.
This being said, it is probably fair to point out that Eric Clapton does not completely blend in with the rest of the legends. It takes him a bit of time to warm up and his wailing guitar isn't as convincing as I hoped it would be. Often times it feels as if he isn't entirely comfortable in imitating David Sanborn's punchy solos and the more careful amongst you will certainly notice when it happens (The Peeper). On a positive side, his singing is still as convincing and inspiring (Going Down Slow).
Legends closes with a prolonged set of improvisations unleashed by Joe Sample's top-notch performance of Shreveport Stomp which spills into the true gem of this amazing set - In A Sentimental Mood / Layla. Opening with a surprising solo by Marcus Miller (not on his beloved bass), followed by David Sanborn's terrific sax, and eventually modulating into Layla this truly is a fitting finale to a gig where passion and skill are in abundance.
1. Full House
5. Going Down Slow
6. The Peeper
7. In Case You Hadn't Noticed
8. Third Degree
9. First Song / Tango Blues
10. Put It Where You Want It
11. Shreveport Stomp
12. In A Sentimental Mood / Layla
13. Every Day I Have The Blues
Legends: Live At Montreux 1997 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080i transfer, Legends – Live at Montreux arrives on Blu-ray via Eagle Rock Entertainment.
Similarly to the recently reviewed Jethro Tull – Live at Montreux, the Blu-ray presentation of Legends is very strong. Detail, as expected, is pleasing, allowing the viewer to notice a great deal of what standard definition presentations of this show are not capable of revealing – from Marcus Miller's firm grip of the bass to Eric Clapton's aging face (you could literally see the pores on his face) to Joe Sample's face twitching as he pours his soul into Shreveport Stomp) to David Sanborn's veins getting ready to explode during Groovin', the HD treatment is indeed spectacular. Furthermore, considering that this is a "live" recording, you will be hard-pressed not to admit how life-like everything appears. I did not detect any macro-blocking either, which often tends to pop up on averagely produced "live" transfers. To sum it all up, this is an expertly produced Blu-ray release that looks very, very impressive.
Legends: Live At Montreux 1997 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are three different audio tracks on this disc: DTS-HD Master mix, Dolby Digital 5.1, and LPCM. I opted for the DTS-HD Master mix, for obvious reasons, and my immediate reaction was that this live show sounded as crisp, crystal clear, and impressive as studio recordings tend to sound. The great solos Eric Clapton, Marcus Miller, David Sanborn, and Je Sample deliver indeed come off the speakers in a manner that has to be heard to be believed. Furthermore, even though this is mostly a front-heavy audio treatment the DTS-HD Master mix adds a considerable amount of movement in the rear channels which isn't as easily detectable on the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. The nuanced solo improvisations between Eric Clapton and David Sanborn for example are terrifically captured here allowing one to practically feel as if one is in the famous venue at Montreux (the only rather disappointing bit here is the mixing on Eric Clapton's acoustic solo which appears to have been unintentionally imsalanced and downgraded).
Legends: Live At Montreux 1997 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Unfortunately, there aren't any supplemental materials to be found on this disc.
Legends: Live At Montreux 1997 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
An exceptional live show that miraculously united five incredibly gifted musicians at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1997 Legends is a must own disc for music aficionados. The names of Eric Clapton, Marcus Miller, Joe Sample, David Sanborn, and David Gadd speak for themselves. Wherever they appear you know that there is quality music to be heard. And Legends is precisely that, a lovely package, with an excellent price tag, full of terrific music. There is nothing more to be said here: Highly Recommended.
Legends: Live At Montreux 1997 Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Eagle Rock Announces Two for September - August 1, 2008
Eagle Rock Entertainment has announced that they will bring 'Jethro Tull: Live at Montreux 2003' and 'Legends: Live At Montreux 1997' to Blu-ray on September 30th. No technical specs or special features have been announced for either feature at this time. Track ...
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