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Herbie Hancock: The Piano

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Herbie Hancock

The music on 1978’s The Piano and 1979’s V.S.O.P.-Live Under the Sky-recorded in Tokyo and released in Japan-was never available in the United States, and much of it has not been available anywhere because Columbia didn’t consider this music commercially marketable at the time. The Piano is an extremely rare example of a Herbie Hancock solo piano recording, and V.S.O.P.-Live Under the Sky is a two-CD set containing back-to-back nights in concert by a superstar band of Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams.

There is an audio story associated with both of these releases. The Piano was recorded in a forbidding purist process, long beloved by audiophiles, called direct-to-disc. Hancock’s performances in the studio were cut, in real time, onto master acetate discs, from which plates were made to stamp out the two sides of a high-quality LP. Live Under the Sky was a very early digital recording, made on one of Sony’s first digital tape recorders, the 1610.

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