Artist: Henry Evans
Retail Price: $110
Learning Difficulty: Expert Level.
Length of DVD(s): 5+ hours
Notes: Spanish with English Dub Over
- Instructional DVDs
- Disk 1: Full Performances
- Disk 2: Techniques Theory & More
- Disk 3: Further Secret
The Trick That Cannot Be Explained, or Jazz Magic, has been for years one of the most daunting pieces of magic for a card magician to learn to perform. Jazz Magic requires the performer to think, count, and react on their feet alongside the spectator as the card miracle is performed. This isn’t just a simple trick, it’s a system, theory, and almost philosophy that can take the serious student of card magic years to learn and longer to master. Henry Evan’s is one of the world’s best card workers (having won FISM in 2000) and a master of performing Dai Vernon’s masterpiece “Jazz Magic” in his latest three DVD release “Opening Doors” he unlocks the world of potential that Jazz Magic offers the performer making learning this daunting piece of magic a little easier to manage.
I’m not going to lie. I hate The Trick That Cannot Be Explained. I’ve tried to learn it now about a half dozen times, and each time something has always come up that has kept me away from putting the time in required to learn it or has just distracted me long enough that I end up moving onto something else. The material is dry. Originally published in Dai Vernon’s “More Inner Secrets of Card Magic” the trick read like stereo instructions. For something so complex, so powerful only a few pages of vague, at best, explanation. I just couldn’t process it. I’ve seen masters perform it, and it always hits with such amazing force but trying to work your way through the labyrinthine mindset in performance time required to make this magical is almost a feat unto itself. When I got Opening Doors by Henry Evans I thought to myself “Now here’s my chance to finally beat the beast and take my spot on the couch next to a select few other magicians who perform this little miracle.” After watching all three disks, I feel that it may just be possible to do that.
The three disk set comes in one neat little package. The first disk focuses solely on full real time performances, of which you get to see quite a few. You get to see two in studio performances, a performance done at the Magic Castle, and yet another done in all Spanish with no voice over. The final section of the disc reviews the first performance in more detail with attention to what is going on behind the scenes. The second disk is where we get into the meat of explaining how to perform The Trick That Cannot Be Explained. Disc two covers everything from theory, to technique, and tricks that can be done as well as their explanations. The third disk goes even further into the subject with Henry talking about improvisation. He provides some good points to practice to get used to the idea of improving the performance as you go. He talks about the magic of words, covers some dice control, and demonstrates that anyone can learn to perform Jazz Magic. He finishes the disk off with an interview with Pablo Kunsetzoff which I found to be very interesting. All in all there is over five hours of video to get through. Honestly this is one of the best taught single effect DVD’s I’ve ever seen. It is very well put together, and the information taught in this is solid gold.
The only problem with this DVD set that I have, and it’s almost a shame to say this, is the language barrier that needs to get crossed in order to learn the material. English is not the DVD’s primary language setting thus the entire DVD set, all five hours of it, is in Spanish with an English dub over. This may just be a personal preference, but I prefer to watch my foreign movies with subtitles and natural dialog as opposed to being dubbed over into English. In Opening Doors the speaker often hurries along to keep pace with Henry’s jokes and performance nuances. The pacing of the dub, and the fact that a single narrator speaks for anyone talking in the video makes the dialog feel disjointed and distracting in places. It’s like trying to read a novel with no punctuation. I guess a more accurate description would be like trying to watch the original Star Wars trilogy in Spanish with an English dub over for the sake of comprehension with a test in film class on the subject due the next day, and only one guy doing all the characters voices. Things would just run together after the first few minutes. I have no doubt those who speak Spanish will find the Spanish only play option to be perfectly fine, but the English dub often was just poorly voice directed. This is a problem because the material being taught isn’t easy! This is one of the hardest tricks in card magic to master and a natural flowing dialog in English would have helped the teaching process along just that much better.
Overall if you’re going to tackle the monster effort of learning Jazz Magic then you’ll want this learning aid in your library at your disposal. Don’t let my opinion of the dub dissuade you from this purchase because I’m still very happy I have this in my library. Jazz Magic is one of the most versatile pieces of magic that can change and challenge your presentation. It’s no wonder why only a select few working pros employ this powerful routine, and with Opening Doors you are armed with all the material you need to master that effect. You just have to get past the voice over if you don’t speak Spanish, and at $110 dollar investment that may not be something some magicians are willing to do.
When I give my product scores below I am measuring them on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 Being absolute the worst score possible, and 10 being the absolute best, making a score of five average. The four points that I grade upon is Product Quality, Teaching Quality, Sound & Video Quality and Overall Quality.
Product Quality: 8
Great DVD set for learning one of, as far as I’m concerned, hardest tricks in card magic. The price is a bit steep, at a $110 dollars, but considering you’re getting three DVD’s and the material covered on those DVDs is invaluable, I think it’s a fair price. Steep, but fair.
Teaching Quality: 2
I hated the dub aspect of this product. Subtitles would have almost been preferable. I hate to see the quality of an otherwise solid product made by someone as talented as Henry Evans get demolished by an avoidable technical issue such as poor voice directing.
Video & Sound Quality: 9
I liked the menu selections with the different doors you opened to get to the different parts of the disk. Very themed. Good audio and video.
Overall Quality: 4
The dub of this DVD really did hurt the final score quite a bit especially when combined with the sales price of this product. The material is good, don’t get me wrong, but the dub is distracting and distracted is not something you want to be while trying to learn this monster of an effect. I think to the point that making any useful attempt to study a hard trick like Jazz Magic more trouble than it’s worth. The dub and the price was enough to bring this down to an impassable score of only 4 out of 10. This is a product failure.