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Return To Forever - Romantic Warrior CD (album) cover

ROMANTIC WARRIOR

Return To Forever

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.23 | 398 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Shakespeare
4 stars Return to Forever: funky beats, clashing with intricate compositions, combined with compelling atmosphere, and a few perfectly placed splashes of darkly fascinating segments, all brought alive by four virtuosos' insane playing. Jazz has been known for its complex song structure and mind-blowing talent, however, it keeps its on the leash. Often a band will forget to be musical as they strive for hitherto-unachieved complexity. Jazz never does this, and, more specifically, Return to Forever is fantastic at delivers heavy doses of both song intricacy and musical feel. Justo make things even more interesting, they even manage to be memorable and, dare I say, catchy! Melodies whistle-able, and grooves hum-able, you'll find yourself head banging, air drumming; maybe even dancing to this. But do not think this a trivial attempt at accessible prog. This release is a sophisticated, cosmic, and even nostalgic album that is increasingly special, and creates a musical bond with its listeners.

True that the bright and jovial soundscape of certain sections may come across too jazzy, with its infinitely optimistic mood, but fear not! After many listens this overwhelming funky jovial groove does not come across so overpowering, and nor does the funky rhythms. Indeed, as most lasting albums are: the Romantic Warrior requires a few (if not many) complete and attentive listens to fully delve into. After that time the compositions will all make perfect sense, though likely still stagger the listener with their greatly challenging elaborateness.

As I mention before, these four musicians really give it their all. Most easily recognizable is Al Di Meola's signature sound, his sickening speed, and emotional conviction. In fact, Al would go on to even greater fame with his solo career in the same year, and continue to uphold his reputation with a number of newer releases and newer projects. Chick had already made quite a name for himself in a number of related projects, and would also continue to be relatively active in the music scene. However, Lenny and Stan made their biggest imprint on the listeners' world with this record. Though both had a rather healthy musical career before and after this (including work on other Return to Forever's other projects), Romantic Warrior is arguably their most prolific work, and they do indeed play their best. All the musicians are phenomenal musicians, but they also seem to bend their sound to better fit the musical shapes of their peers in the band, so that they create a single collective sound, rather than four isolated musicians.

In much jazz, and a few particular albums, I seek refuge. Some albums have a distinct healing quality, and I would think this among them. The addictive rhythm, upbeat outlook, and catchy melodies have a strange affect on me. It has not grown old over the many listens I've given it, and it is always pleasurable and incredibly entertaining every time. Romantic Warrior is one of the finer jazz outputs ever, and is only a few minor shades from being an utter essential.

Shakespeare | 4/5 |

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