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Return To Forever - Live at Montreux 2008 CD (album) cover


Return To Forever


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.60 | 47 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars As Russ Davis writes in the liner notes for this DVD, the reformation and the tour of Return To Forever was THE jazz event of 2008. The American fusion group was active between 1972-78 (plus a brief comeback in 1983 if I understood right), recording a handful of classic albums which, if you ask me and thousands of others, still offer some of the very best instrumental fusion music ever. Yes, the group also made some vocal music with e.g. Flora Purim, but that's not relevant now. The members of this quartet (keyboardist Chick Corea, guitarist Al Di Meola, bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White) are legends on their own right, each having made a considerable career outside of RTF as well, naturally. The anticipation under the tour was huge, and the high expectations were truly fulfilled. The concert at Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland is excellently captured in sound and vision on this DVD -- which I believe to be one of the best jazz/fusion concert DVD's all-time (well, not that I've seen dozens of them...). The camera work and editing are first class.

The Montreux concert is approximately 1h 45 min long, consisting basically of six RTF compositions (not counting the short Introduction) plus solo performances of each musician. The most represented albums are Where Have I Known You Before (1974) and Romantic Warrior (1976), and there are the title tracks from Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (1973) and No Mystery (1975). The quartet does a marvelous job making the compositions come fully alive. They probably sound superior compared to original studio versions. I say probably, since it's been a long while that I listened to the albums. For those not familiar with RTF's music, here are some adjectives: virtuotic, bright, vivant, dynamic, adventurous.

The composers on Al Di Meola's acoustic solo are Corea, himself and Astor Piazzolla. Chick Corea's solo contains some percussive use of the piano strings. The theme from the Disney movie Alice in Wonderland (which I actually missed, maybe I wasn't paying full attention at that moment?) is sandwiched between strangely titled '88 + 10 A' and '88 +1'. Both Clarke's lengthy and innovatively virtuotic acoustic bass solo and White's powerful if not highly original drum solo are intertwined with an extended version of 'Romantic Warrior' that finishes the show.

The DVD contains extras (approx. 45 min.) recorded in the US leg of the 2008 tour. The tracks 'Friendship' and 'Duel of the Jester and The Tyrant' are welcome additions, but unfortunately the whole US footage suffers from not-so-good-looking split screen technique, which started to irritate me a bit. But all in all, if you're looking for top class fusion on DVD, you can't go wrong with this one. Despite the slight disappointment factor of the extras, I consider this release to be on a masterpiece level.

Matti | 5/5 |


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