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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby




Columbia/Legacy C2K 87165




Disc 1

  1. Opening
  2. Eye of the Hurricane
  3. Tear Drop
  4. Domo
  5. Para Oriente
  6. Pee Wee
  7. One of Another Kind
  8. Fragile

Recorded live on July 26 1979 at Denon Colosseum, Tokyo, Japan

Disc 2

  1. Opening
  2. Eye of the Hurricane
  3. Tear Drop
  4. Domo
  5. Para Oriente
  6. Pee Wee
  7. One of Another Kind
  8. Fragile
  9. Stella by Starlight
  10. On Green Dolphin Street

Recorded live on July 27 1979 at Denon Colosseum, Tokyo, Japan

Freddie Hubbard – Trumpet
Wayne Shorter – Tenor
Herbie Hancock - Piano
Ron Carter – Bass
Tony Williams – Drums

I first heard VSOP some 20 years ago and what struck me then was the vitality of every member of the band. These guys give 150% on every performance! Everyone is at virtuoso level on his instrument and when all this is combined together, ground breaking music is produced.

Looking at the personnel of the group it seems to be the Miles Davies with Freddie Hubbard replacing Miles. The difference is that whilst Miles’ music at this stage was rarely joyful, the much more forceful and inventive drive of Hubbard changes not only the overall sound of the band, but the way the other musicians play as well.

I must confess that I cannot at all times understand what is going on, I have always found it necessary to listen to the playing of VSOP more than once to really enjoy it.

Ron Carter and Tony Williams combined to change what is expected of the modern jazz rhythm section forever. Herbie Hancock has such a mastery of the piano in any kind of music that he has probably become the most in demand musician in the world.

The difference between the VSOP musicians and the previous generation of jazz musicians is stark, because of their sheer musical genius these guys are able to work successfully in any genre and they do. They have been able to transcend the normal pattern of jazz musicians, struggling to make a crust, they have all become international stars able to demand fees that keep them a long away from the breadline. This led to some resentment by jazz fans in the USA, but has been a pattern followed by the majority of their successors.

The two CD’s were made live on two consecutive nights to the delight of very excited Japanese audiences. At the time they were recorded jazz had a larger following in Japan than anywhere else in the world, which accounts for the many re-releases (vinyl to CD), that were recorded in the 70’s. They had every reason to be excited, they were hearing five of the most creative musicians in jazz, pushing the jazz frontiers forward. Members of the group created all the compositions, only Wayne Shorter did not have a title credit.

Whether all this jazz frontier pushing makes for pleasant listening is something everyone has a feeling about. What has to be acknowledged is that without it, everyone would still be playing New Orleans jazz and the music would have faded into obscurity,

On the second night there was an encore featuring Hancock and Shorter on Stella by Starlight, the audience seem delighted to hear a standard tune and unusually for Shorter, he stays close enough to the melody in the theme statement for it to be instantly recognised. The same comments apply to On Green Dolphin Street, which lasts a mere 2.17, Hancock’s contribution to both of these tracks is exceptional.

VSOP were an outstanding, groundbreaking group and every serious jazz fan needs something of theirs in their collection. This two CD set is ideal.

Don Mather


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