The first V.S.O.P. tour triggered a flood of recording activity in July 1977, but only a fraction of it was released in the U.S. This session, recorded in San Francisco just days before the Quintet concerts in Berkeley and San Diego, finds Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams mixing it up sans the horns -- and the results are more reflective and cerebral than the full Quintet concerts. Hancock is thoroughly in control of the agenda while Williams throws in those meter-fracturing flurries that keep everyone on their toes. There is a startling re-interpretation of "Speak Like a Child," which is significantly tougher and busier than the wistful Blue Note version, as well as challenging Hancock originals like "Watcha Waiting For" and "Watch It." This is uncompromising acoustic jazz, commercial anathema in the electronic '70s -- and thus, only Japan got to hear it.
AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell