Herbie Hancock's V.S.O.P. project with his former bandmates from the Miles Davis Quintet – Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams – and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard was a band that almost single-handedly tried to re-establish acoustic jazz in the United States. And though they made three recordings, all of which were favorably reviewed and heralded by true jazz fans, none of them sold very well, and the band could find few gigs in the United States. The 1978 tour of major cities was thought to be a triumph at the time, but the unit could find few gigs afterward, and so its various members all went back to their other projects. In 1979, they got the opportunity to tour Japan and jumped at the chance. Sony, Hancock's Japanese label, recorded the two evenings, and the first, which took place during a furious rainstorm, was broadcast live on national television! Live Under the Sky marks the first time that this album has been available in the United States in any form.
This reissue is unrelated to another V.S.O.P. set simply titled A Jazz Band Ball. Terry Gibbs on vibes and marimba matches wits and creativity with Victor Feldman and Larry Bunker, both of whom double on vibes and xylophone. Assisted by pianist Lou Levy, bassist Max Bennett and drummer Mel Lewis, the intriguing frontline essentially plays bop, but with a great deal of color. The interaction between the vibraphonists, who are all featured and occasionally trade off, is the main reason to acquire this very interesting set.
On this reissue CD, pianist/arranger Marty Paich heads a septet that consists of trumpeters Jack Sheldon and Don Fagerquist, valve trombonists Stu Williamson and Bob Enevoldsen, and a quiet rhythm section with bassist Buddy Clark and drummer Mel Lewis. While some swing standards are taken as stomps (including "Blue Lou" and "Jumpin' at the Woodside"), a pair of Dixieland warhorses ("Dinah" and "Ida") are surprisingly recast as dreamy and introspective ballads. In addition, there are a couple other familiar pieces, plus an original apiece by Paich ("Iris of the IRA") and Bill Holman. The cool-toned music holds one's interest and is one of many fine Marty Paich recordings from the 1950s.