Interestingly, the extended post-bop VSOP are doing here is the stylistic exact opposite of what most of its members were pursuing in their day jobs. The Headhunters (Hancock) and Weather Report (Shorter) were exploring space, extended funk jams and newfangled electronics, and Williams was recording noisy jazz-punk with Ronnie Montrose. By way of contrast, VSOP relied on the tried and true devices of acoustic instruments and bop harmonies. Live Under The Sky comes on like a Cassius Clay uppercut. A thrilling, breathtaking, incredible live set from five players in perfect tune.
Herbie Hancock's recorded output is both extensive and spotty, and it can be difficult for someone just getting acquainted with his work to know quite where to begin. Both VSOP: Live Under The Sky and its Columbia/Legacy partner release The Piano deserve a place on every jazz fan's shelf as major contributions not only to the work of one the greatest living keyboardists but to the state of the art of jazz.
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