Concerts Go High-Def Page 2

Then there's Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis: Showcase (LRSmedia; Compilation •••, Blu-ray Picture ••, Sound ••••½, Original Extras ••½, New Extras ½). An hour of Season 1 highlights, it has names from Dave Brubeck to Phil Woods, all resonant in the Dolby TrueHD lossless mix. This is a PBS series, but the direction is too MTVesque for comfort; worse, the blue/rose lighting is so murky that some artifacts from the DVD (halos, blotchiness) are still here, even though the series was shot in high-def. Bios and photos don't add much (the DVD's bonus CD is gone); new trailers add nothing.

Prefer the Pat Metheny Group? Try The Way Up: Live (Eagle Vision; Show •••½; Blu-ray Picture ••••, Sound •••½; HD DVD Picture •••½, Sound •••; Original Extras •••, New Extras •••). The 2005 performance of this long-form piece is a grower, and the Blu-ray edition does a better job than the HD DVD in clarifying images and popping colors from the relatively washed-out standard-def disc. Also, the HD DVD's Dolby Digital Plus sound adds too much bass to a mix already soft on treble. The 20-minute interview with Metheny is interesting, and the new bios are decent.

Three more Eagle discs include travelogues, but they vary widely. On The Black Crowes' Freak 'n' Roll ... Into the Fog (Show ••••, Blu-ray Picture •••½, Sound ••••, Original Extras ••, New Extras: None), the 15-minute scenery behind their 2005 reunion is mostly a yawn. On Toto's Live in Amsterdam in 2003 (Show ••, Blu-ray Picture •••½, Sound ••½, Original Extras ••, New Extras: None), the 35-minute frat-boy hijinks get embarrassing. But on Elvis Costello and the Imposters' Club Date: Live in Memphis in 2004 (Show •••½, Blu-ray Picture ••••, Sound ••, Original Extras •••••, New Extras: None), an hour-long road trip has Elvis and Pete Thomas touring the South, and it's mesmerizing. All three main programs were shot in high-def, but only the Costello seems fully saturated. Its guitar-heavy mix obliterates the keyboards, though. Much better is the Crowes' robust yet layered sound.

Still, the best of the Eagles is (surprise!) Alice Cooper's Live at Montreux 2005 (Show ••••, Blu-ray Picture ••••, Sound ••••, Original/New Extras: None). Originally, there was an extra (a CD), but it's not here. What you do get is a kick-ass band, a 5.1 mix that expertly blends guitars/bass/drums, and an image that & well, seeing an amazingly vivid closeup of our hero in "Welcome to My Nightmare," all I can say is: I love the dead! And welcome, indeed, to high-def fare!

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