Michael Feinstein: The Sinatra LegacyOverview -
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
Admittedly, I had no clue who Michael Feinstein was prior to reviewing this Blu-ray. With the sub-title 'The Sinatra Legacy,' I figured his concert would be full of Frank Sinatra covers. That's fair to assume, right? Wrong. But the first thing this concert Blu-ray does is clear up those two things for people like me.
Before taking us to the concert, the show opens with footage of Feinstein getting off a private jet near Carmel, Indiana (the location of The Palladium where this concert was filmed) set to a voice-over in which he explains who he is and what we're about to watch. Who is he? Feinstein explains himself as a crooner artist who performs 150 shows each year. Why is this Blu-ray titled 'The Sinatra Legacy' despite only containing a song of two that Sinatra actually sang? Feinstein explains that this show isn't simply about Sinatra, but about those whom he sang with, influenced and was influenced by. In that case, shouldn't this disc be titled 'The Sinatra Era' since the word "legacy" implies something left behind by another person (in this instance, Sinatra's music)? Yes. And Feinstein even says that, referring to it as a tribute to the "Sinatra era." So why does it have a misleading title? Just so I'd have something to talk about.
To put it bluntly, I know very little about the Crooners. My wife worked as a deejay for many years, mostly weddings and corporate parties, and it always surprised me to see how many people at these events requested crooner classics to be playing while guests shuffled in. Hearing these tracks at her events is literally all the experience that I have with the genre. It's always come across to me glorified lounge singing, so I've never gotten the appeal – but I am fully aware that I'm in the minority here. While I personally don't care for the music, I know that anyone who enjoys the crooners classics from the "Sinatra Era" will love what Michael Feinstein does with it.
Instead of taking stage and flying through the setlist, Feinstein takes his time, sharing anecdotes about the songs and personal experience he had with several of the original performers. Feinstein isn't just a fan of the music who recreates it for nostalgic purposes - though young at the time, he was there. He lived it. He knew these artists personally and even performed along side a few of them. Feinstein is the real deal, not just a small step up from a cover artist. These original performers weren't only his icons and inspiration, they were his peers and friends.
The setlist to this 63-minute concert plays out as follows: "Once in a Lifetime," "I Thought About You," "Fly Me to the Moon," "Put on a Happy Face / A Lot of Livin' to Do," "So in Love," "There'll Be Some Changes Made," "Begin the Beguine," "Brazil," "For Once in my Lifetime," "Maybe this Time" and "New York, New York."
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Image Entertainment has placed 'Michael Feinstein: The Sinatra Legacy" on a Region A BD-25 (which is a perfect size for this hour-long concert) in a blue eco-friendly keepcase. Everything about the playability of this disc is simple and straightforward. Pop it in, watch or skip over an FBI warning and you're taken to the plain still-frame soundless main menu.
The 1080i/AVC MPEG-4 live transfer of 'The Sinatra Legacy' is one of the very best looking concert films I've reviewed to date. Presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, this demo-worthy disc only features two very minor flaws.
When aimed at the stage, the picture quality from each of the cameras is perfectly matched to the others. The continuity between them all is perfect. The resulting picture quality is sharp, highly detailed and one hundred percent clean. The first of the two problems only arises when the cameras are turned on the dimly lit audience to show their reactions. Because the cameras are obviously set to capture the lit stage, when we see the crowd between songs, they're washed out as if the contrast was suddenly boosted to brighten the dark environment. Black becomes gray and color loses it vibrancy. Fortunately, you're not watching this Blu-ray to see the audience (unless you attended the concert and are playing Where's Waldo looking for yourself).
The second problem is so tiny that I hate having to mention it. During a four-second shot, barely visible aliasing shows up on a mesh-protected speaker behind the orchestra's conductor. It's so minute and I'm so surprised that I actually caught it that I refuse to allow it to weigh in on the video quality's rating – especially because everything else is so perfect. The colors are brilliant. Despite having bright, sweat-inducing lights blaring down, fleshtones are spot-on. The picture has a great 3D look. And banding, artifacts, digital noise and edge enhancement never show up.
Two listening options are provided – a 5.1 lossless DTS-HD Master Audio track and an uncompressed PCM stereo track - but if your theater is equipped with 5.1 system or better, there's only one worth listening to.
Just like the video quality, there are only two problems with the audio quality – only these two are a bit more of a nuisance that those of the video. Any time that Feinstein is talking and not singing, the vocal track is so quiet that you either have to strain your ears to understand him or crank the volume way up. Plan on doing so for the intro and every between-song break for the whole duration.
The second issue also comes from the mix itself. During the performances, while the front and surround channels are filled with clear, fantastic-sounding music, the rear channels do nothing more than very quietly echo the collective sounds in an attempt to create a natural concert-going experience. I've been to enough concerts to recognize that hearing a slight echo from the back is natural, but a much more full listening experience has been sacrificed simply for a needless effect. Instead of filling the space with sound, the 5.1 track makes the listening space seem more wide and empty in the back. The desired effect works, but it's not worth the wasted opportunity of hearing it better.
Not a single instrument is lost within the music. The graceful horn and violin sections ring out with beauty. The track is dynamic and full of life. Had it not been for the rear channel and volume issues, this disc's audio would match the demo-worthy nature of the video quality.
'The Sinatra Legacy' features a few "bonus videos" presented with uncompressed PCM stereo audio. You can watch them all individually or select the "play all" feature.
- "Sway" (1080i, 6 min.) - Watch a deleted number from the show titled "Sway." Before beginning the number, Feinstein explains his personal history with the original singer of the song, Rosemary Clooney (George Clooney's aunt). This is the only special feature worth checking out.
- Journey to the Palladium (1080i, 7 min.) - This featurette is a more like a dialog-less demo reel that The Palladium (the new venue where this concert was filmed) would give to investors to make them happy and booking agents to show off the location. It is set to Feinstein's fantastic version of "Pure Imagination" from 'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.'
- Palladium Community Video (1080i, 7 min.) - No joke, this is the exact same feature as 'Journey to the Palladium,' only the music has been changed and the order of the photographs and footage of the Palladium being built has been shuffled around.
Despite not performing my type of music, Michael Feinstein and his orchestra sound great. It's no wonder they put on 150 shows each year – people who love the crooner genre will love him. He keeps their classic favorites alive by paying them worthy tribute - and Michael Feinstein's Blu-ray 'The Sinatra Legacy' proves it. The demo-worthy video quality suffers from two tiny problems, but luckily neither of them disturb the performances. The audio quality would equally be demo-worthy had it not been for two slightly bigger flaws within the mix – one accidental and the other a poor artistic decision that stops the dynamic mix from being all-encompassing. But if you love the crooner classics, this is definitely a concert Blu-ray worth owning.
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