"Who the hell is Kenny Rankin?" I hear you ask. Well Kenny is a smooth jazz/pop singer and songwriter who has recorded 9 albums during his long career. His song In The Name Of Love was record by Peggy Lee while Haven't We Met has been recorded by Carmen McRae and Mel Torme. He has also worked as a studio musician and played rhythm guitar on the Dylan tracks Subterranean Homesick Blues and Maggie's Farm which were released on the album Bringing It All Back Home. While his later career has a distinct Jazz flavour, Rankin doesn't limit himself to any particular style. His original performance of the Lennon and McCartney song Blackbird so impressed Paul McCartney that the later asked Rankin to perform a medley of their songs when they were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Recorded for broadcast on the Jazz Channel cable network at the Black Entertainment Studio number 2 in Washington D.C, this performance features Kenny backed by a four piece band. For selected songs, a string quartet is also used. The band features Bill O'Connell on Piano, David Finck on
Double Bass, Joe Beck on Guitar and Kim Plainfield on Drums. The string quartet features Karen Karlsrud and Cenovia Cummins on Violin, Juliet Haffner on Viola and Stephanie Cummins on Cello. All are fine musicians in their
own right and play well together making this a high quality concert experience.
The playlist for this particular performance is:
|1. You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To||9. Birembau
|2. Why Do Fools Fall In Love||10. More Than You Know
|3. When Sunny Gets Blue||11. She's A Lady/In The Name Of Love
|4. Round Midnight||12. Soft Guitar
|5. Love Is Here To Stay||13. Blame It On My Mouth
|6. Sunday Kind Of Love||14. Peaceful
|7. Misty Roses||15. Haven't We Met
|8. Blackbird||16. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
The mood that this performance conjured in my mind was of a warm night at a resort hotel with a sweet smelling light breeze causing the flames from hurricane lamps to flicker gently. You have a small table with good company and your choice of refreshing beverage. Mr Kenny Rankin and band are playing their relaxing background music on a small stage lit by strings of bare light bulbs, yes indeedy sounds good to me!
The full frame video transfer basically steps to one side, offering no distractions, so that you can get on with enjoying the performance. Overall it is on the soft side but reveals a reasonable amount of detail in close shots and adequate detail in slightly wider shots. Very wide shots are pretty fuzzy with the faces of performers basically just flesh coloured blobs but this is typical of this series of releases.
The colour saturation of this transfer is good with bold blues, greens and purples the main feature of the stage lighting. Despite the strong splashes of colour there is never any bleeding that could rob the transfer of detail. The main performers are also lit by "normal" or white light which I think helps avoid the slight colour bleeding present in the earlier Jazz Channel discs that I've reviewed. The really dark sections of the stage show that the black level is good while shots of the barely lit audience prove that shadow detail is also good.
Trivial occurrences of aliasing were noted and other than that we have a pretty clean transfer.
There are DTS, Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio tracks on this disc. I listened to the DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 offerings.
This audio track is a beaut! My player showed this as a 5.0 track however, the centre channel was active throughout the performance. Specific instruments are featured in a particular channel most notably the Piano and Guitar which occupy the left and right channels respectively. The rear channels are well used to carry reverb or echo as well as applause which creates a nicely immersive and live soundfield. This is a very musical and detailed transfer that I'm sure you'll enjoy.
Despite this being reported as a 5.0 mix, my subwoofer remained awake throughout the concert filling out the sound of the double bass.
Dolby Digital 5.1
My DVD player reported this as a 5.1 mix and like the DTS track it features the centre channel as well as the subwoofer. This track has the same sound design as the DTS version and is also of excellent quality. The main difference of note is in the volume level which sounds like it is around 3 or 4 db higher at my normal reference setting. This is also a nicely detailed transfer that will not disappoint however those of you who can, should listen to the DTS track as it is more refined.
There is only one extra on this disc and it is an interview feature that runs for just under 13 minutes.
In this feature Kenny Rankin is asked about his influences, his beginnings, what he feels about music and performing live. He also talks about some of the problems that he had with substance abuse and what it feels like to be free of that. This feature cuts between concert and interview footage but unlike the other Jazz Channel discs that I've seen, the interview footage of Kenny is presented full frame rather than in a small window.