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Return To Forever - Return To Forever CD (album) cover

RETURN TO FOREVER

Return To Forever

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.98 | 173 ratings

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Isa
Prog Reviewer
4 stars |B| A beautiful debut by Chick Corea's fusion powerhouse group, Return to Forever.

This was the first fusion album for me to ever own, which probably wasn't really the best to start with, in all honesty. It took quite a while to really grow on me, probably because it is pretty obscure and relatively thinly scored compared to a lot of fusion out there, and based mostly on delicate keyboard work with jamming that is very much in the vain of fusion era Miles Davis. For a while I thought of it as just another nice fusion recording, but as I became more familiar with the genre of fusion itself, I came to really appreciate this album and its overall uniqueness later on. This is probably unlike anything you've ever heard before, even if you're a staunch fusion listener.

What strikes me as most interesting about this album is how heavily it relies and atmosphere and soundscapes, especially compared to most fusion counterparts such as Mahavishnu Orchestra and Herbie Hancock. In fact I'd venture to say this album is very much the antithesis of Inner Mounting Flame in that the band juices out the essence of every single note to its fullest extent, concentrating more on the actual space between beats rather than filling it up with crazy and frantic musicianship. Not that the latter is bad, it's just a different style of writing. Thus overall we have a very soft and relaxing mood throughout most of the album, one that is almost intoxicating and very blissful at times. It's more about painting a picture in the listener's mind than anything else, and a very whimsical and wondrous picture it is.

Other unique nuances in the album is the use of a vocalist, something seldom heard in any highly regarded fusion out there. Come to think of it, a vocalist would probably clutter up most fusion albums out there, but in this one I couldn't think of a better, more fitting addition to the sound of the album. Flora Purim's voice it just absolutely stunning, with a tone and style that blends wonderfully with the other instruments, especially in the playful track What Games Shall We Play Today?, though she has her pitchy notes here and there. Crystal Silence has, instead of vocals, saxophonist Farrell soloing on the soprano, and this track is probably some of Chick Corea's best work in his lifetime, and bold statement in itself. I think it's one of the most beautiful jazz tracks I've yet heard actually, it should be considered a jazz fusion standard, period. The epic is almost as great, with some fun bossa nova percussion, but it takes several listens to fully appreciate, as does the first track.

Return to Forever seems an album that transcends categorization, for it doesn't even really sound like fusion in a sense, a style with enough distinctions between individual groups as it is. I haven't heard anything that sounds at all similar to it, and I doubt I ever will. I highly recommend this excellent debut of one fusion's most prominent groups to any respectable prog collector, and if you happen to like jazz fusion, this is an album you must have.

Isa | 4/5 |

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