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Herbie Hancock & V.S.O.P.: Live Under The Sky

Jim Santella By

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Recorded in Tokyo at two evening concerts in July 1979, Herbie Hancock's exciting two-CD set includes the original two-LP recording in addition to previously unreleased material from the same two performances. Disc one was recorded on July 26th, while disc two was recorded on July 27th.

V.S.O.P. debuted in New York in 1976 and recorded in Tokyo a year later. The performances heard here mark the group's celebrated return to Japan after a subsequent two-year wait. Welcomed with open arms and anxious ears, the band was fresh and spontaneous for this event. Flowing from the straight-ahead acoustic jazz that they had espoused with Miles Davis, Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams and Wayne Shorter joined Freddie Hubbard in reprising their mainstream attitude.

Hubbard was in great shape. He can be heard on these sessions climbing high and roaming all over the place with a creative spirit. V.S.O.P. may have been the high point of his career. Shorter, Carter, Hancock and Williams turned in their usual superb performances. The applause serves to verify that. Together the five members of this now-classic quintet made jazz history.

The ten previously unreleased tracks, with several exceptions, repeat the same program one night later. The band was fresh and alive. In jazz, there's no such thing as cloning a performance. Each selection turns out slightly different each time it's performed. Ron Carter's spine-tingling bass line on "Para Oriente" turned out better on the first night, but the band completed this saucy number with authority nevertheless. And the bassist carried his solo off with a fresh mindset each night out. Shorter's intro to "Pee Wee" worked better the second night due to microphone placement. With a live concert, you never know for sure. "Stella by Starlight" and "On Green Dolphin Street" are performed by Shorter and Hancock alone. Their duets put a spell on you. Audio samples for this highly recommended album may be found online .

Track Listing: Disc One: Opening; Eye of the Hurricane; Tear Drops; Domo; Para Oriente; Pee Wee; One of Another Kind; Fragile
Disc Two: Opening; Eye of the Hurricane; Tear Drops; Domo; Para Oriente; Pee Wee; One of Another Kind; Fragile; Stella by Starlight; On Green Dolphin Street

Personnel: Herbie Hancock (piano), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Wayne Shorter (tenor and soprano saxophones), Ron Carter (double-bass), Tony Williams (drums)

Title: Live Under the Sky | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Sony BMG Legacy

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