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Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis

Live from Jazz at Lincoln Center New York City DVD

Review by Gary Hill

Some people might have issues with one type of music or another not being their particular taste, but I don’t think anyone can argue with the musical prowess of Willie Nelson or Wynton Marsalis. These guys are masters of their particular musical ideologies and they are well respected in and out of their “crowds.” The two came together in January of 2007 for this performance. This is the kind of stuff that becomes legend over time.

The musical form of choice for this shindig was the blues. It might seem a more obvious leaning towards the sounds of Marsalis. Indeed, a music instructor I had in college once said that you can have the blues without jazz, but you can’t have jazz without the blues. It is a correct assumption both in terms of the “blue note” that jazz relies heavily upon and the evolution of the musical styles. So, Wynton Marsalis’ jazz background would seem to make him an obvious choice for a blues session.

Willie Nelson, though, is known as a country musician. Well, really the blues and country music share a lot of common ground, too. In many ways in its infancy the blues was the black man’s music and country was the white man’s interpretation of that sound. There have been plenty of blues artists whose sound cuts into the realm of country music and vice versa.

These guys create a great sound. They have a smoking band supporting them and the show is a powerful one. This rocks and grooves and is just plain impressive. The sound quality and videography are both top notch, too. All of this lends itself to making this a “must have” DVD. There are a couple minor mishaps, though.

First on the “complaint list” is the fact that there are no bonus features. It would have been nice to get some more behind the scenes stuff or just about anything in addition to the main show. Secondly, this, and it seems to be a trend these days, has bits of interview interspersed here and there. Folks, if you are ever going to produce a concert DVD here’s a tip – those little bits are cool, but put something in the menu that lets you play the video without them. Otherwise it detracts from the concert experience. All in all, these are fairly minor complaints and the show here is strong enough to overcome and make this a great DVD. It could have been even stronger, though, had they fixed these small things.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

 
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