Review by eletourn November 24, 2007 (5 of 6 found this review helpful)
|Of the 8 Hancock/VSOP Japanese SACD's this one is probably the biggest surprise in both content and sound. After the release of the beautiful Columbia Remaster 2 CD set in 2004 you would think that we had everything that was recorded by the VSOP Quintet on those 2 July 1979 nights at the Denon coliseum in Tokyo. The 2004 Remaster includes the performance of both nights (July 26 and 27) but surprisingly editing out most of the chatting between the band and the crowd on the rainy 26 night. The 2 SACD set includes the complete unedited performance of the 26 and the encores of the 27.
1. Opening/Eye Of The Hurricane 9:53 (July 26)
2. [Musician's presentation -2:15] Tear Drop 10:23 (July 26)
3. [Rain Dance chatting -0:57] Domo 12:20 (July 26)
4. [Herbie's crowd clapping -2:24] Para Oriente 7:34 (July 26)
5. [Wet T-Shirt contest -0:46] Pee Wee 8:15 (July 26)
1. One Of Another Kind 21:04 (July 26)
2. [shower chat -1:09] Fragile 9:06 (July 26)
3. [Ending/Encores chant -2:42] Stella By Starlight/On Green Dolphin Street 7:13 (July 27)
Note: timing in brackets represents extra chatting; shown as negative count before the song start
Of all the VSOP Quintet performances which reunited Miles 2nd great Quintet of the 60s (Herbie Hancok, Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams) but with Freddie Hubbard replacing Miles, this is probably the best performance and recording. The fact that it is played in front of a large high spirited crowd brings an incredible atmosphere that even the rain cannot tone down and seems to bring the best out of this band. The fact that Herbie is playing on a real acoustic piano is also a big plus. The material comes from all members but Shorter including only one song from Miles period (Pee Wee from Sorcerer) but there is a nice flow to the concert. For the encores only Shorter and Hancock comes back on stage playing two old standards to the delight of the crowd (Funnily Shorter starts in the wrong key but both quickly recover - a real Miles moment).
Soundwise this is also a complete overhaul of the 2004 remaster. The first very noticeable feature is the low end. Although the 2004 remaster has good bass sound, the bass drum is just very flat. The new SACD provides an incredible real bass drum sound. To the point that it can become overpowering like in the middle of the first track when Hubbard is soloing and Williams wants him to play louder and try to get his attention (you can hear it on the 2004 remaster but you can really feel it on the SACD). Tony's cymbals have much more body to them and are much better integrated to the music. The trumpet and the sax have also less harshness to them.
I gather from comments on the net that there was a previous import CD from the 90s with the same track order but without the opener "Eye Of The Hurricane". I've never heard it so cannot comment if it is the same mix and if it also includes the extra chatting. Short of having both nights and a multichannel mix this is probably the best it will ever get.
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