Calle 54

Calle 54 (2000)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Extras: Commentary Track, Documentary, Biographies, Trailers

’Calle 54’ is a feature-film length documentary about some of the greatest Latin Jazz artists, many of which you may have never heard. Filled with an array of sizzling live performances, ’Calle 54’ showcases not only the musical skills of the artists involved but also the scope and richness Latin Jazz has to offer to the connoisseur. Sometimes coming across as Smooth Jazz, sometimes as acidic Free Jazz, the diversity is truly astounding, but it is really the fusion of different genres that produces the most mesmerizing moments, such as the masterful blend of Flamenco and Jazz.

’Calle 54’finds its way to DVD in anamorphic widescreen glory in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio from Buena Vista Home Entertainment. The transfer is sparkling clean and clear without blemishes or defects. Colors are richly rendered and always very balanced, nicely reproducing the atmospheric stage lighting that was used on some of the sets. Blacks are solid and without breaking up, give the image good visual depth. The compression is without flaws and maintains very good image detail throughout.

The real beauty of this DVD comes as the 5.1 channel Dolby Digital mix, which adds an incredible amount of ’room’ to the recordings. Early reflections perfectly recreate live settings with an acoustic richness that is beautiful to hear. The frequency response is very good and free of distortion of any kind, allowing you to hear all timbres and textures of the orchestras or the perfect resonance of the Steinway grand pianos.

The disc contains a number of extras, such as an insightful commentary track by Latin Jazz Historian Nat Chediak. It offers valuable information beyond the images and recordings, putting the artists into context with the entire genre and elaborating far beyond the scope of the film itself. An exciting documentary on the history of Latin Jazz is also part of the DVD, as well as an assortment of biographies and discographies and trailers.

’Calle 54’ is a film you may have never heard about, but trust me like the somewhat similarly-themed ’Buena Vista Social Club,’ it is a film that you will not forget as you get caught up in the energy of the music and the talents performing it.