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Crate Digger’s Gold: Herbie Hancock – V.S.O.P.

July 6, 2013


Sometimes you have to go crate digging in your own collection.  I recently picked up a nice vinyl copy of V.S.O.P  – The Quintet and it reminded me of this very important album from my youth.  This was one of the first albums I purchased as an 18-year-old budding music head.  Not sure why I bought it – assume it must have gotten a lot of press at the time.  Little did I know at the time that it was an classic retrospective of one of modern jazz’s great players, composers and band leaders.

This a pretty amazing album – it is a live recording of a concert on June 29, 1976 in NYC,  The intention was to be a retrospective of Herbie’s career to date, but as Herbie put it this is really a “tribute to Miles Davis” who was a very sick puppy at the time.  It gathered three great bands Herbie was associated with:

  • The Miles Davis Second Great Quintet (Ron Carter – bass, Wayne Shorter – sax, Tony Williams – drums, Herbie Hancock – keyboards, and Freddie Hubbard serving as understudy for Miles Davis on trumpet) – sides 1&2.  There are some who say that side 1 and 2 of this album were instrumental in hatching the neo-bop young lion movement of the early 80s (e.g. Wynton Marsailis).  These guys had not played in this style for quite a few years and it was a thrill for the jazz world to see this great group reunited.
  • The Mwandishi Sextet – side 3 –  this was a group that took the spirit of Mile’s Bitches Brew forward into very deep and profound territory.
  • The Headhunters Band – side 4 – this group was a funk inspired outfit and would have been representative of the music of the moment for Hancock at the time of this concert.

I played this album to death in the late 70s – especially the Headhunter’s side, but really the whole album has had a great impact on my listening to this day – all three bands and the styles they represent are very dear to my heart.  If you want a quick intro to the music of Herbie Hancock this is the album to do guide you in that discovery.  This was a popular album so it is pretty easy to find a decent quality vinyl edition at a reasonable price.

One Comment
  1. Great find. Like I said, I enjoy your crate finds. I’m there with you.

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