VSOP II in concert from Tokyo this weekend. Recorded at NHK Hall in Tokyo on May 19, 1983 and broadcast by NHK. This one isn’t new or newly discovered – it’s been around for a while in various forms from various sources. The CD has been apparently out of print for a while, so if you missed it the first time around, here’s a chance to catch up.
VSOP II was the brainchild of Herbie Hancock, who originally formed his “Very Special One-Time Performance” band in 1976. In 1983, he put together a revised line-up featuring Wynton Marsalis (trumpet), Branford Marsalis (tenor and soprano saxophone), Ron Carter (bass), and Tony Williams (drums).
Herbie Hancock toured with Williams and Carter in 1981, recording Herbie Hancock Trio, a five-track live album released only in Japan. A month later, he recorded Quartet with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, released in the US the following year. Hancock, Williams, and Carter toured internationally with Wynton Marsalis and his brother, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, in what was known as “VSOP II”. This quintet can be heard on Wynton Marsalis’s debut album on Columbia (1981). In 1984 VSOP II performed at the Playboy Jazz Festival as a sextet with Hancock, Williams, Carter, the Marsalis Brothers, and Bobby McFerrin.
In 1982 Hancock contributed to the album New Gold Dream by Simple Minds, playing a synthesizer solo on the track “Hunter and the Hunted”.
In 1983, Hancock had a pop hit with the Grammy-award-winning single “Rockit” from the album Future Shock. It was the first jazz hip-hop song and became a worldwide anthem for breakdancers and for hip-hop in the 1980s. It was the first mainstream single to feature scratching, and also featured an innovative animated music video, which was directed by Godley and Creme and showed several robot-like artworks by Jim Whiting. The video was a hit on MTV and reached No. 8 in the UK. The video won in five categories at the inaugural MTV Video Music Awards. This single ushered in a collaboration with noted bassist and producer Bill Laswell. Hancock experimented with electronic music on a string of three LPs produced by Laswell: Future Shock (1983), the Grammy Award-winning Sound-System (1984), and Perfect Machine (1988).
Turn off the news, turn on the stereo and hit the play button – take an hour off from the madness.