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Return To Forever - Romantic Warrior CD (album) cover


Return To Forever

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars THE FUSION AT ITS BEST! If you look for top technical performance, extremely loaded music, a mix of progressive and jazz incredible arrangements, then this record is for you! We are talking about top notch musicians: they are (were) all among the best in the world: Chick Corea: keyboards / Al Di Meola: guitars / Stanley Clark: bass / Lenny White: drums

Ouf!! Those guys together will make you speakers to explode!! Imagine: you have the feeling that all the instruments want to steal the show! But this is an illusion, because a careful listening tells you that every instruments are extremely well synchronized and rather work together to produce a music almost impossible to play live!!


Report this review (#29459)
Posted Saturday, April 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Romantic Warrior" is one of my all-time favourite classic fusion jazz-rock album containing some simply mind busting instrumental interplay. "Romantic Warrior" brought 4 of the world's most talented and creative musicians together (Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White and Al Di Meola). Right from the onset you know that this album is going to be pushing all cylinders. Songs are nice and long and certainly cover a nice wide range of moods and textures.especially in their wide use of instrumentation. Corea employs a wide range of keyboards , synths, organ, piano while Clarke accents with his own classic bass textures (Piccolo bass, acoustic bass, fretless bass). Lenny White's complex yet comprehensible percussive strokes are interwoven with Di Meola's outstanding guitar fingerings (electric and acoustic guitars). The entire ensemble sound tight and highly progressive exuding a high degree of control while releasing tons of energy. Essential album and certainly needs to heard in the same light as early MAHAVISHNU and WEATHER REPORT masterpieces.
Report this review (#29460)
Posted Saturday, April 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the best "Fusion progressive" album of the last twenty years... an exceptional mix of jazz, jazz rock and progressive, which will be one of the main references also for US Prog bands like ECHOLYN (listen to "Suffocating the Bloom", where the style of YES and GENTLE GIANT meets that one by RETURN TO FOREVER, above all inside the present "Romantic Warrior")... such Chick Korea's keyboards are fantastic, probably you find his best job here!!

Highly recommended!!

Report this review (#29461)
Posted Saturday, April 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars With the Mahavishnu's MkII line-up now disappeared, and the Mk III that was clearly not going to last, RTF stepped in to fill the void with this RW album. Indeed while MO always included some classical music (Stravinski mostly, but Bartok as well) in their fiery fusion, RTF had mostly stayed clear of that if you'll except the Spanish influence via Rodrigo's Aranjuez n a few tracks. With these classical twists on RW, RTF started sounding more "prog" ala Yes than the previous albums, something that is reinforced by the medieval prog-leaning sleeve artwork and the album concept based on medieval stories. BTW, Chick had to allow his RTF partners to place compositions (one each, him keeping three) on this album. After four albums on Polydor, RTF moved to CBS, and the album was released by the mid of 76. BTW, please read my trusted colleague Dick heath's review on this very album, because he adds more issues I share.

I never really investigated to see who copied who on the album's opening track called Medieval Overture, but the opening seconds have a definite Gentle Giant, so obvious that I am never able to fully forget it, while listening to the album. While I wouldn't reduce this track to a blatant copying of GG, both groups share the capacity to handle some of the most complex music with the utmost ease. The following Sorceress, is a fantastic Lenny White-penned slow-starting funky scorcher, but past that, White's drumming can only amaze us, but Corea's vitriolic piano solo is voluptuous, coloured, rhythmic, yet burns holes in your stomach like the best of those Southern Georgia moonshine bourbons!!! The 11-mins title track is also a killer with Chick's opening piano and Clarke bowed contrabass intro, the track builds up gradually, allowing White to dazzle us, even if the real hero is Clarke's bass ruling over Chick's suspended & floating piano, ADM's Spano-Flamenco guitar while Clarke takes the bow to the contrabass to close the debate. Stunning stuff somehow very reminiscent of its preceding track

The flipside opens on ADM's over-estimated Majestic Dance; while most groups would cry for a composition of this calibre, this track is the weakest of the album, ADM sounding like Carlos, Chick choosing some poor synth sounds, the marimba bringing you again on GG grounds; and it isn't majestic nor is it danceable. Most amazingly is Clarke Magician track, which plunges once more into GG territory, with Chick's synths almost bringing the track to a dead stop, before Stan picks up the track in an ultra-funky manner and some kind of ill-advised fanfare brings us to ADM's Hackett-ian guitar shrills. Although flawlessly played, it is obvious RTF cannot find ideas of their own and they set out to pillage the Shulman-Minnear mines. At least, the closing Jester & Tyrant track avoids falling in the same trap (partly anyway), especially in the opening minutes where one might hear some Banks-ian layers and a very decent first section, but the track almost gets lost in the second part of the Duel with lightning speed solos, some on excruciatingly bad sounding synth, courtesy of Chick, but all four musos are just wanking away at their respective instruments. No wonder punk happened quickly.

Among the few negatives, I can think of, 1- Chick's obsession with new technologies, especially in the synthesizers department (but this is not his plight alone, many jazz-rockers shared it as well, the later 70's ultra competitiveness creating such a race to "innovation") caused him to find some disputable synth sounds that nowadays sound extremely cliché; 2- the need to stuff every second of the maximum amount of notes (Birds Of Fire does it better and Miles once asked: why play so many notes? just plat the good ones!); 3- the GG pillaging (and Genesis to a lesser extent), although to actually match the GG style is impressive enough, this shows that RTF was running out of ideas, something this writer hints already after their WHIKYB album. While this album is all too appreciated by the crowd and especially the symphonic-minded progheads, I am not keen on giving it the "essential" label, because of its borrowings, but the album can actually be an excellent introduction to those Symph prog fans to the jazzy realms of the Jazz-rock of the early 70's and the fusion of the second part of the 70's.

Report this review (#29462)
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
Dick Heath
Jazz-Rock Specialist
3 stars RTF's true prog rock album?

There are many stories that circulate about "Romantic Warrior", e.g 1. Recorded in the studio nextdoor to Yes recorded "Topographic Oceans" - difficult when "Romantic Warrior" was recorded 1976, Oceans in 1973 - some other Yes album.................? 2. Stanley Clarke's favourite bass guitarist was Chris Squire......?

However, Chick Corea had certainly sneaked in to guest on straight rock albums, e.g. Rick Derringer's "Spring Fever" or playing with Steve Vai (name that album?). These guys could do rock without the jazz.

Compared to "Hymn of the 7th Galaxy", often said to be one of jazz rock's best albums, this is a different kettle of fish. Different line-up (Al DiMeola supplying more Latin chops than Bills Connors), while Clarke, White and DiMeola were now doing their own things as band leaders as well as their boss. There was too newertechnology in the studio and on stage.

By now RTF had signed to Columbia Records, who had many of the early 70's jazz rock bands on their books, there the business was aiming mega-sales and that was in the rock-crossover marketplace. Many of these factors would suggest to a band seeking success and wealth (with Company pressures), by aiming at the rock, rather than dwindling jazz or jazz rock, audiences - and with "Romantic Warrior" RTF hit the target.

"Romantic Warrior" is one of the best albums of its time, especially sans vocals. However, nowadays I will listen to "Hymn of the 7th Galaxy" (on CD) in preference to "Romantic Warrior" (still in vinyl) almost every time, to hear a band hungry for success, busting with new ideas and the resulting music full of energy. "Romantic Warrior" is a more mature album but the energy is diluted (too much fussing over the technology), ideas getting tired?

Report this review (#29463)
Posted Tuesday, May 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This record is another standard, and the standard to the whole music bussines, beacuse is one of the "ultimate super-groups". Chick Corea swinging from solo to band, manage to settle a great band with a group of virtuosos. This record is one of the last to feature this marvellous band, a comprehesive effort of jazz, funk, rock, prog and fusion. Some might be fooled by the "heavy metal cover" of the record, and have a wrong impression, however, by the first note you enter a world of infinite possibilities with a great opening piece, followed by a nice excersise of funk and fusion with the great SORCERESS and adding a great exposure of musicianship with the main title ROMANTIC WARRIOR, after this half, the record turns into a more fusion ground, finishing with the masterpiece DUEL WITH THE JESTER AND THE TYRANT, a long treatment of sounds and textures. Me being a fond follower of Corea's music, this is one nice starting point, getting to know his "darker side" beacuse he is one of the fusion masters, that eventually turned into a jazz legend. For those trying to find a record to know RTF, this might be a better start than the first "self-titled" record if you're looking a more "progressive side" of this music. In the end, RTF is more fusion and jazz than prog rock. enjoy
Report this review (#29467)
Posted Tuesday, February 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album refinded the RTF sound. It also really introduced Al DiMeola to the world and showed what he could do with a guitar. Chick Corea is also in very excellent form on this album. I would recommend this album as an introduction to RTF's music.
Report this review (#29469)
Posted Wednesday, March 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I find it extremely difficult to approach these Jazz-rock/Fusion supergroups (with the exception of Mahavishnu Orchestra). You only need to gaze through the line-up once to see how ridiculously talented musicians we have here. So, it's safe to say that if technical performance is the thing you look for in music - well, it simply doesn't get any better than this. Unfortunately, with extreme talents there usually tends to be a lot of showing-off also. That's not completely the case here, however. They're not exactly showing-off, just playing with so much mathematical preciseness that they seem to have forgotten music's main purpose - to appeal to human emotions. RTF simply do not have the emotional capacity or the furious energy and experimentation that made Mahavishnu Orchestra so wonderful. While prog fans are often accused of listening to music with no emotions, I will always choose a band that appeals to my emotions over a robotic powerhouse (RTF, Dream Theater) that tries to appeal to my brain. Romantic Warrior is a good album, but it had the potential to be so much better than this. 3,5 stars
Report this review (#29472)
Posted Friday, May 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is not cold as mentioned a few reviews earlier. It is warm, it is grooving incredibly, it has moments of power that comes not from this planet. It' s so marvelous, so perfect in the details and very rythm based. I dont' care whether this is a supergroup, it is excellent music - anyway. And warm.
Report this review (#29473)
Posted Sunday, May 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I've changed my mind quite often as to which Return To Forever album I enjoy the most, but I think ultimately, even though Hymn Of the Seventh Galaxy seems more ground-breaking, Romantic Warrior wins out because it has a much wider range of textures (helped quite possibly by the fact that every member of the classic quartet of Corea, Clarke, DiMeola and White wrote at least one song here). The fact that this brilliant outfit didn't last (in this form at least) beyond this compelling album adds to the mystique of one of the finest jazz-rock groups ever.

Medieval Overture comes in breathing fire and brimstone and then proceeds to be both funky and proggy (with some killer Lenny White drum moments) before drastically cutting the pace with a free form solo and then reinventing itself as a series of rapid-fire jams. Sorceress on the other hand starts off with a fat slab of funk before a stunning exchange of solos ensues, Corea's electric piano work is superceeded by a DiMeola guitar masterpiece before Corea returns to steal the show with some top-notch spacey synth work. He then takes the piece into the stratosphere with a heavenly acoustic piano solo that blends conventional jazz with avant-garde techniques! This Lenny White composition might just be my favourite ever RTF track

Then again it may be the laid-back epic of a title track that I love the most. With a lush acoustic guitar making the intial running, Romantic Warrior is an atypically mellow piece. The lyrical piano playing from Corea is delightful and there's some lovely accompaniement from both Clarke and Di Meola (some of his playing here is gorgeous) and all that comes before Clarke takes over with a truly brilliant bass solo. It's so damn melodic and groovy at the same time. DiMeola's acoustic then moves back in and takes this piece outta sight. I love the feeling the musicians exude of having so much time and space in which to express themselves.

The rock guitar base of Majestic Dance, with its memorable melody (that for some reason calls to mind The Allman Brothers) is another great DiMeola moment. Aside from his power riffing, this piece has some sudden marimba/Moog interludes to break it up. The Magician also has some interesting textures. Although I don't enjoy the shrill guitar leads at the beginning of the track, there's certainly more than enough of the fluttering, shimmering sort of contribution to win me over even before a fanfare takes over. The opening of Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant is strangely similar to the sort of keyboard sounds and lines that Tony Banks was using at the same time, although the similarity ends after about 30 seconds because the group launch into atmospheric jazz fusion, there's lots of string and great electric piano, some Moogy synth, outstanding bass work by Clarke, and while I don't like Di Meola axe tone here ... the mystical sounding outro is pretty cool.

All in all, Romantic Warrior is undoubtedly among the most important jazz-fusion records ever and one that hordes of progressive rock fans will enjoy. ... 81% on the MPV scale

Report this review (#29474)
Posted Saturday, May 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars SPECTACULAR!!!INCREDIBLE!!!! really exciting, all chick coreas' projects seem to go to differents ways but achieve the essential incredible good music!!! This album blows your mind! i didn't expect this result when i bought this album at first Medieval Overture is contagious and can infect everyone!! GOOOOOD
Report this review (#39412)
Posted Thursday, July 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Romantic Warrior is a fusion / jazz conceptual album around medieval fantasy. Chick Corea operates as the real leader of the project but he is formidably accompanied by a bunch of talented musicians as Al DiMeola, Stanley Clarke...The music alternates fast, very technical bass / guitar sections, crossing the duet with a stunning piano touch and epic, symphonic, ironical interludes. The mood is constantly changing, turning into free improvisations and basic jazzy lines. The second track delivers a nice funky guitar set accompanied by a long jazzy, sometimes romantic piano solo of Chick Corea. The self titled track is incredible. After a rising introduction into a deep, fantastic atmosphere (with piano scales and acoustic guitar) we have breaks mixing duets between bass / guitar / piano chords, always returning to the initial rhythmical accompaniment after each interplay. The guitar style of Al DiMeola is always very personal, orientated to speed accuracy, palm mute technique alternative picking (up & down stroke). The alchemy is sensational. "Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant" begins with a strange, amazing and grandiose synth introduction. After that we have a beautiful, relaxing keyboard / piano lines punctuated by technical, fast, "heavy" guitar solos, some humorous passages are added to mark the transition before slapping bass solos or speed, "shred" guitar solos. The duel is clearly assumed between the two guitarists. A landmark of technical fusion / jazz. A perfect association of instrumental, various suites for soloing musicians. An album that made the band unique.
Report this review (#39769)
Posted Tuesday, July 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Recently, I have dredged this landmark fusion album out of my record collection. I am purely captivated by the magic of the album.

Lineup: Chick Corea- One of the best keyboard players in the world. I feel he's on par with Wakeman, Rudess and Emerson. Listen to the ARP solos on the last track. Magic.

Al Di Meola- One of the first shredders on the electric guitar. Sickeningly brilliant

Stanley Clarke- This man abuses the bass guitar to no limit. My personal hero of the instrument. Blistering speed and precision make Stan the Man a true monster prog bassist.

Lenny White- Drums = Awesomeness


1) Medieval Overture: Fast paced and nauseating with shreds and lightning fast runs from the guitar and bass. This song hints at the future awesomeness of the album.

2) Sorceress: HEAAAAAVY Funk. Great solos from Chick and Al. Tends to be a little monotonous.

3) The Romantic Warrior: Delicate and captivating, this song features Stanley on Upright and Bowed bass. Chick and Al trade solos.

4) Majestic Dance: The tempo picks up and the band displays some A1 technical skill through this lighthearted jam. The keyboard melody during the first few minutes is more addictive than heroin.

5) The Magician: Al and Chick dominate this track, a la fanfares during the chorus played by Chick.

6) Duel of the Jester and The Tyrant: The definition of prog. 11 minutes of mindblowing point/counterpoint and soloing wizardry. Al, Chick, Lenny and Stan all trade fills and solos in the monster call and response sections. Heavy use of the Moog, Oberheim and ARP.

Report this review (#68448)
Posted Sunday, February 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I am in my mid-40s and started listening to fusion shortly after my initial spin of ELP's Tarkus when I was 14 yrs old. I developed an insatiable hunger for EVERYTHING fusion. I scoured the bins at any and every record store in the NYC area looking for that elusive fusion "masterpiece".

Within a year or two from my initial quest I had pretty much heard them all and seen most of the artists in concert. Some of what was, and still is, considered "required listening": Inner Mounting Flame, Birds of Fire, Heavy Weather, Black Market, JLP's Enigmatic Ocean and......Romantic Warrior.

Of all those recordings I may be one of the few prog-rockers who considers this to be the epitome of what fusion is supposed to be all about. Some say that it is cold, mechanical or not heavy enough for prog-rock fans. I say non-sense to all those notions!

This is a MONSTER recording of the highest caliber. Undoubtedly, this record would go with me to the deserted island and would make my top 20 list. A TRUE rock-jazz- fusion masterpiece. Not only is the playing stratospheric, but the compositions are so well conceived that some of the melodic passages can bring a grown man to his knees with emotion. A testimony to Chick Corea's genius as a composer and arranger.

None of the Mahavishnu Orchestra's work has had any such effect on me. I find the MO records to be exercises in soloing/blowing/shredding with very little to no compositional intrigue. In fact, I find that the MO records have not stood up well to the test of time. Those records, for the most part, are..........pretty darn UGLY! Hardly any melodic structure to speak of and very thin harmonic progressions.

On the other hand, Romantic Warrior contains enough accessible melodies and grooves that most anyone can sit and listen to it. Heck, my 86 yr old dad used to groove to this CD whenever I turned it on! He could appreciate the beauty of this record. But then again my dad was a special cat. One of his favorite DVDs was Pink Floyd's Pulse!

I will agree with those who say that this record is an example of fusion going mainstream. However, even though a large part of the record is accessible it offers up some SERIOUS arrangements and orchestration that should have the most demanding pro-rock listeners on their toes.

Here is a list of of my all-time favorite jazz-fusion CDs. All of these I rate at 5 stars and would not hesitate to include them alongside my favorite prog-rock CDs, such as: Selling England by the Pound, Close to the Edge, Thick as a Brick, Tarkus etc.

1. Return to Forever: Romantic Warrior 2. Jean Luc Ponty: Enigmatic Ocean, Cosmic Messenger 3. Al Dimeola: Elegant Gypsy, Splendido Hotel, Kiss My Axe 4. Weather Report: Black Market, Heavy Weather 5. Lee Ritenour: Captain Fingers, The Captain's Journey 6. Pat Metheny: American Garage, Offramp

Report this review (#68786)
Posted Wednesday, February 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars I love a lot of jazz/rock fusion as its termed on this site. There's the tight, explosively powerful playing of early Mahavishnu Orchestra. There's the grace of Weather Report. There's the quirky humour of much of Bruford's solo and "Earthworks" music. But as with all music, for me there needs to be strong melodies underpinning all the tricky time changes and virtuoso playing, especially with jazz. RTF have or had much going for them - they are all great instrumentalists, and if technical brilliance is your bag then you won't be dissapointed. But, however good these guys may be - listen to White's accomplished drumming, Clarke's unique bass playing, DiMeola's speed, and their leader, Chick Corea's total mastery of keyboards - the quality of composition is poor. It is for the most part, elevator music, put into complex arrangements yes, with clever time signatures yes, with brilliant improvisational soloing yes, but at its heart the music is poor and has no soul.It's the sort of music Jazz FM (as was) used to play all day. There are exceptions, such as the 1st part of "Duel of the Jester" where some smart soloing from first DiMeola then Corea is made over a strong riff, but compare that to "The Magician" - every so often the ideas run out so the musicians grind to a halt, noodle for a while, before heading off on a new theme. That's not clever, that's not original, to me it smacks of desperation.

I can see the appeal of this music for many but not for me!

Report this review (#68932)
Posted Friday, February 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This album I owned after I knew "The Endless Night" of the quartet other album "Music Magic" and the music presented here has an intricate and complex balance of sensibilities and abilities and artistic tastes. When the 20-Bit Digitally Remastered edition was released, I upgraded my cassette collection into CD with new liner notes written by Chick Corea in May 19999. This album has special meaning for me because at the time my collection of music tended to be in heavier part - the rocking part, I would say. I am amazed how these four geniuses work together to compose and perform great music which blends jazz (the most one), rock and avant-garde into top notch composition. From the opening track "Medieval Overture" it's clear how the four work dynamically to offer something different to the ears and mind of the listeners. "Sorcerers" gives more power of the quartet's music with great improvisation of guitar, keyboard / piano. The piano solo as well as guitar solo are truly stunning.

"The Romantic Warrior" starts off in slower tempo with piano touch but what so obvious is the chance given to Stanley Clarke to perform his bass guitar improvisations throughout the track. Awesome! "Majectic Dance" sounds to me like a jazz-rock fusion in continuous flow of the music. "The Magician" sees the band again in their peak virtuosity with their individual skill in playing their instruments. Everyone is given a chance to demonstrate how good they perform the music. The interesting point is that this track has a multi-part structure combining complex and soft music destined to give a chance for each musician to play their instruments. "Duel of The Jester and The Tyrant" is the cream of cream of this album. WOW! The music of this track is really unbelievable and I never imagined before that there would be the kind of music as complex and as wonderful as this one! This is a masterpiece. The song moves dynamically from an ambient opening with keyboard and basslines to segments with much power and complex arrangements. Al Di Meola and Chick Corea play similar notes / chords together in a very nice harmony at one part but after that they seem like play different things but the song seems cohesive as one integrated composition. Chick Corea piano touch has characterized the kind of sounds he has built throughout his career as jazz musician. AL Di Meola plays rocking guitar part which gives the music is rich with textures.

Overall, I can find no shortcoming at all from this album at segment, song or even album level. In fact, the cover artwork is also a great one. It's definitely a masterpiece. If you like the kind of prog music with heavy influence of jazz, this album would fit your taste. Don't miss it, my friend ..and don't forget to say this mantra: Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#75861)
Posted Saturday, April 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars this is definitely a FUSION album, songs like 'Sorceress' and 'the duel' are the best example... even though most of them tend more to the prog style... In my opinion Medieval overture and the magician are the best tracks on the album... Specially the first one, it features great keyboards by corea and excellent guitar solos by al di meola... It's impressive how this musician can play in so many styles and play so good in each of them... I think this album deserves 5 starts because it's an excellent accomplishment by a musician not dedicated 100% to this kind of music.. This is completely worth checking out
Report this review (#82368)
Posted Saturday, July 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Probably my all time favorite fusion album...although it is the genre im least familiar with. Sorceress and Duel Of the Jester and the Tyrant are the highlights to me. Chick Corea, Al DiMeola and Stanley Clarke all showcase their tremendous talents on Duel. To me the only weakness in this band is Lenny White who does a nice job of holding down the rythm but never demands the listeners attention. To me hes the good talent abong the greats and in the overall scope of things he gets left behind. Wonderful album that i apreciate more and more as i begin to play the bass myself. Wonderful album essential to fans of jaxx fusion and highly reccomended to all fans of prog.
Report this review (#87220)
Posted Monday, August 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well review by Romantic Warrior sounds ridiculous... I guessed everyone already had this CD on their Collection... after buying the original remaster , i thought about getting into it for real since this was the first successfull Fusion album that made me realize what "virtuos" was about...this opened the doors to mahavishnu, to weather report, and every jazz band i have listened till now...from Brasil, Argentina, Hungary, Germany, etc... I've seen lot of reviews giving this album a "robotic" , "non emotional" jazz... Its funny how they ignore what this jazz is about... one of the most fantastic things about jazz is certainly that it can be emotional, but other interesting thing is how sensual this genre can be... This album has that , tons of Sensuality...

Romantic Warrior Acoustic piano by Chick is the number 1 acoustic solo on my list(along with Clouds, Vital information) and many others but this is just unbelievable...sorceress one is also mind blowing...

The interesting thing about Return To Forever is that it doesnt have the "MUSIC FOR MUSICIANS" wich is maybe one of the lamest phrases i have ever heard that some jazz musicians say sometimes... mainly the Bluesy kind of jazz, John Scofield, Mike Sternt and etc ...

Somehow i always recall this band when i heard "and the musicianship was incredible" , "oh? like Romantic Warrior one?"....

The Art cover was what first caught my attention , nothing really medieval was on the record though...

A interesting thing about this album that makes it also different from the rest, is that DRUMS are not annoying!...i heard reviews saying Lenny was boring, and blah blah, and this is one of the few albums of jazz that you dont have dennis chambers doing the wank fest birthday party cymbals constantly sounding thing...Though Medieval Overture has enough Lenny for the entire album on that one track.

This album dont need any ratings, its a "FUSION CLASSIC" by definition and it should be in the collection of every fusion appreciation list...


Stay Classy

Report this review (#94879)
Posted Wednesday, October 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Elegance is the word. The most correct way to describe this wonderful album. At least, in my opinion. And it has to be noticed that I'm not a great fan of the jazz-rock/fusion genre itself. In the past I generally avoided to buy records like these 'cause I was sure they simply weren't made for my ears. Also now I have some problems to get into, but I found some important gems to open the door to this new musical progrock world.

Romantic Warrior's influence on me was so unespected and unbelievable: I was completely blown away since the very first listenings. I know that the most experts would certainly stigmatize my enthousiasm explaining this is a sort of symphonic-jazzrock album. All these finesses won't probably produce any effect on me 'cause I'm a sort of ignorant in this world. All I have done is sit down, relax and enjoy this fabulous record from beginning to end. Other well acclaimed albums simply did not have the same result on me, as for example Mahavishnu Orchestra's "Birds of Fire" or (to take a view to the other side of italian prog) Perigeo's "Abbiamo Tutti un Blues da Piangere".

The general mood of Romantic Warrior is builded by powerful and elaborated arrangements, wisely enriched with very sparse reminiscences of the middle-age, due to the album's subject itself. Keyboards' master Chick Corea along with a certain Al Di Meola on guitar mixed their style in a very sublime way. Drums and bass are played scientifically without any foult by, respectevely, Lenny White and Stanley Clarke. The opener "Medieval Overture" really opens a tour de force! There are not excesses here, all the sound and the songs' structure are complex but never compromising the keystone: elegance!

Easily a five stars rating.

Report this review (#94917)
Posted Wednesday, October 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Indeed this is a classic fusion album. the musicianship is great, the melodies, the oddtime meters, everything! The only thing I don't like here is Lenny White. I know for sure that he is a great drummer, he was with Miles and that tells you something. But he doesn't play that explosive here as the other guys do. For instance, Al Di Meola plays some of the craziest guitar soloes ever on this album. Stanley Clarke makes some ridiculously complex arrangements and so does Chick Corea. But Lenny White doesn't do that much, he just goes along with the rhythm, nevertheless, not any drummer can keep up with the other three guys. That's why I give take stars from this album, because with another drummer, or Lenny White at 100 %, this would've been a perfect album. If you think I'm exaggerating, listen to Billy Cobham in the Mahavishnu Orchestra albums, and you'll see what a drummer like that would've been on this RTF album.
Report this review (#95537)
Posted Monday, October 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars The only recording I have of this now is a cassette taken off my scratchy, abused and overplayed vinyl copy.

If I remember rightly I saw them performing this on the UK TV Programme "The Old Grey Whistle Test" and was completely blown away. I guess it was my first experience of jazz/rock.

Nowadays I feel some of the playing is there simply to display their virtuosity (and I feel Al DiMeola is the main culprit with a lot of fast runs up and down scales). However for the most part I love it. Stanley Clarke is particularly stunning on the double bass.

I still listen to it and it's on the ever-expanding list ofvinyl albums I intend to replace one of these days. Til then it'll get played pretty regularly on cassette

Report this review (#96260)
Posted Monday, October 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Return To Forever was put together by the musical genius Chick Corea, and this is arguably it's best lineup. Al Di Meola is one of the most inventive and amazing guitar shredders around and Stanley Clark is at a level of his own in bass playing. Chick Corea is amazing when it comes to versatility... he could play in a myriad of styles, ranging from Classical to Bossa Nova to Latin Jazz. Lenny White is good at keeping the rhythm going, but the spotlight in this album really goes for the former three musicians, but from time to time he does some explosive playing.

Romantic Warrior has a mistaken concept regarding the music in it; while one expects to be awed at medieval soundscapes and chivalry imagery, the music does not work to that extent. It's rather a very good fusion of jazz, funk, blues and rock; but while perhaps accidentally there are medieval elements, they are not decipherable easily.

The most adventurous track and my personal favourite is "Dual Of The Jester and The Tyrant", which has incredible interplay and the most powerful riff below great showcases from Di Meola, Clark and Corea. Also worth of notice is the interplay in "Majestic Dance", which is a more straight rocker. "Sorceress" has clear indication of funk, while the rest is more blurred when considering the dominating style... it's simply fusion.

The rest is also great, but can't really hold a candle for "Dual". The only flaw I find is that the music is not faithful to the concept the album suggests, and that's a considerate flaw when you think of progressive music as music that should work in a context. But in all, if you want to start your fusion collection, I'd suggest to start with this one. 4 stars

Report this review (#99737)
Posted Monday, November 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Weather it's because of the album cover or because of the music, this record deserves 5 stars.

I never really was into Jazz or Fusion, but this album made me change my mind. And even though this album is made up by members that could easily try and show their own skills too much (Chick Corea and Al Di Meola anyone?) and only showcase themselves (all of the musicians on this album are top notch!) they do try to work as a real group and succeed in doing so. This album is more prog than jazz in my opinion, there's heavy usage of synthesizers (something not done in jazz usually) and the music is in a faster pace than you would normally expect from jazz.

The final track "Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant" is listenable for free on this site, so be sure to check it out to get a good idea of the album.

Highly recommended (obviously fusion fans will already know this, but most prog'ers probably not yet)

Report this review (#102061)
Posted Thursday, December 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a good Jazz-Rock album which I also listened a long time ago. The four musicians in this band showed their skills, and each member is a very good musician. Chick Corea`s use of the synthesizers is very good, and he really knew how to get very good sounds from them, considering that this album is from 30 years ago and that the technology from those years in keyboards wasn`t as advanced as today. This is a band of "virtuosos", IMO. The song that I liked more and which has very good keyboard sounds and a bass guitar solo is "Medieval Overture" which sounds "mysterious". Other parts of the album have some commercial jazz influences, but as a whole this album is good.
Report this review (#103786)
Posted Wednesday, December 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars ok alot of people will probably say some of this is very unlistenable, but the thing with certain bands is the single fact that you have to immerse yourself in what they are doing at the time, and thats what i do every time i listen to this group. Chick plays his unique, crisp odd phrases, stanley one of my fav. players busts out some of the funkiest and most unique solo lines i have ever heard and uses a vast array of techniques and effects, lenny cranks out complex totally expressive rhythms with a really different sense of rhythm that intrigues me and al plays soaring epic lines, quick dual lines in conjunction with chick, and just flat out very well for his age at this time period.

Album highlights are the super groovy "the magician", the spacey epic intro and verse to the romantic warrior and the odd phrases and lines in the dual of the jester and the tyrant. I am only an eighteen year old so i am probably more open minded about stuff like this than alot of people around here, considering that my tastes are totally rooted in prog. metal/rock, fusion, and spacey avant garde albums kind of like this.

Report this review (#110078)
Posted Wednesday, January 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Return to Forever's "Romantic Warrior" is one of the first fusion albums I sought and I was initially pretty impressed. The virtuosity of Al DiMeola, the literally unbelievable bass talent of Stanley Clarke and Chick Corea's light handed lightning fast keyboard playing would be an excellent match, and they certainly are!

The song structure of this album is a bit different from others I know of, it isn't a complete aimless jam like Mahavishnu Orchestra can sometimes sound like, it's a little more symphonic and coherently structured, with re-occurring themes and some really great songs. "Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant" is the best, excellent contributions from all members and great symphonic-jazz passages.

There are a few things that annoy me about this album. The most prevalent and irritating aspect of it is the types of keyboard sounds used by Chick. They sound very dated and thin, the plastic fiddly kind which I suppose is a product of the time. He does use some good voicing though, so it balanced out. The rest of the record is quite excellent, though it does have the trademark coldness of Fusion, but it is slightly justified by the use of structure and creative writing.

Not an overly attaching album emotionally, but if you're in need of a speed rush but appreciate the cohesion normally unusual in fusion, this is your album.

3.5 Stars

Report this review (#111940)
Posted Monday, February 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars To me this is the best Return to Forever album. In fact it is tied with birds of fire to be the best album in all of jazz fusion music. The fact that it is the best in the genre that makes it deserve a five star rating. It is the prime example of jazz fusion music.

with al di meola joining the mix of chick corea, stanly clark, and lenny white they were setting themselves up to make the jazz fusion master piece. di Meola's guitar virtuosity they had fund the last ingrediant. Corea is a keyboard master and and both Clark and white are skilled jazz muscisians all they needed was that last ingrediant. di Meola's value can be seen on Majestic Dance which he wrote. medievil overture is without a doubt the greast single song in the genre. duel of the jester and the tyrant is also a magnificent song which shows of the band massive talent.

Report this review (#117041)
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well this is the one to get - a true masterpiece. RTF at his best - fast and furious - experimenting the limits and sounds. Its a interesting album - the avant-garde sounds, from different points of view. All the band members composed one song, exept Corea - but its no wonder. After all Corea was the one who started RTF and left a big mark in progressive music history. I can only imagine what it was like on LIVE.


Report this review (#117689)
Posted Monday, April 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars this album is essential fusion. With the stellar lineup consisiting of chick corea, lenny white, stanley clarke, and al dimeola, you can't go wrong! This album has it all; musicianship, creativity, an imaginitive theme, song length and progression, even really cool cover art. Lets go through song by song. Medieval overture is a perfect start for the album. Jazzy guitar and echoing keyboard draw you in. Soon you get some eriee, brooding double bass and keyboard passages. It is unreal, really. Sorceress is catchy, with some atmospheric keyboard, and cool guitar falls whcih remind me of shots of magic shooting from a sorceress' wand. Romantic warrior is a primarily acoustic piece with some surreal keyboard to open the piece. It progresses through some very magical moments of guitar and bass soloing with an oriental keyboard riff and an equally oriental guitar riff (which I emulate all the time because it's awesome!). Magestic dance is probably the most upbeat song here. It has a very driving bass line and very catchy guitar work. Also some very good keyboard/harpsichord passages. Some past passages too (lots of those in this album, di meola is here after all!) Next is my favourite, the magician. It starts off with a very mysterious vibe-like intro and a lightning fast unison passage which I still can't play (argh). This is the most diverse song on the album. It even teeters on the verge of metal for about 10 seconds, only to be followed by a very playfull keyboard riff, and of course...a slide whistle! yay! also, watch out for clarke's killer bass parts...they're very percussive. last, but in no way least is the duel of the jester and the tyrant. This song has an intro to rival the mysteriousness of that of the magician's. reminiscent of the 'brooding' passage in the medieval overture. the song is long and intense. This one contains the most furious of di meola's guitar work here. A huge blast of inspiration for myself as a guitarist. It really is a musical duel...di meola's guitar being the tyrant and corea's quirky keyboard part being the jester. This album has no real flaws...dare I say it is a masterpiece of fusion. No less than 5 stars for this one! Any lover of prog could easily use this album as a gateway into fusion. I did, and I never went back, back to what i'm not actually sure! this is top-of-the-line fusion, or even music in general. Anyone who appreciates complex, colorful, creative music should definitely have this one!!! I 'd give it 6 stars if I could because of it's importaince as a groundbreaking fusion album!
Report this review (#126101)
Posted Sunday, June 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars A masterpiece!

I think this album is underrated here. In my opinion it is RTF's best album and a masterpiece. It's a proper jazz-rock fussion. I love this album because every musician show their huge skills every minute. Every one is trying to play his best in every song. It is an essencial album for any fussion prog or music fan.

1.- Medieval overture: It starts with a fantastic Corea keyboard riff. Then Al Di Meola plays his strong guitar solos with the riff. 9/10

2.- Sorceress: Now it starts with another Clarke bass riff. Then Corea star to play a fabulous piano solo and in the end Corea and Di Meola play the solo together.9/10

3.- Romantic Warrior: This is my favourite song of the album. It is great. It begins with a relaxing and a bit boring part but then Chick Corea starts to play a long piano riff while Stanley Clarke starts to play a bass solo. In this part of the song it looks as if Clarke was fighting against Corea playing their instruments. But when you think the song is over Al Di Meola starts to play his solo with an acoustic guitar and star to fight against Corea and Clarke. A 5-star-song absolutely!10/10

4.- Majestic Dance: This is a song where DiMeola plays his best with strong and very fast solos. 9/10

5.- The Magician: Maybe this is the song I like the least from this album. Although it's full of great solos it's a bit boring.7/10

6.- Duel of the jester and the tyrant (Part I & part II): This is also one of the best songs of the album and RTF. The first part is slow and Corea uses keyboards and it becomes faster and faster. Although in the second part of the song the theme doesn't change very much it continues going higher and faster and better.10/10

My punctuation for "Romantic Warrior": 5 STARS

Report this review (#129349)
Posted Friday, July 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars Not being an expert in Jazz, I always have a hard time trying to review albums from Jazz Fusion bands, but when you have the chance to listen genius of the size of Chick Korea, Al DiMeola, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White, it's worth the effort, so I took "Romantic Warrior" from the shelf where I keep the albums I hardly ever listen and decided to give a try.

After so many years without listening this excellent album, I had almost forgottern how it sounded so it was almost a discovery and a very pleasant one, they are far better than I remembered.

"Medieval Overture" is simply perfect, even when flows coherently from start to end (something not so common in Jazz where free performance is usual), the radical changes from Jazz to some sort of Spacey King Crimson sound, simply impressive.

If I had some doubts about their Prog attributes, all were dissipated by this track, Chick Corea is without doubt a master of any genre and he is the one that IMO adds the Prog elements with his display with the keyboards. The song ends with the interplay of all the bands that reminds of Medieval battles, a great opener.

"Sorceres" starts with a very short oneiric keyboard intro soon followed by bass and drums in perfect synchronicity, even though it's evidently a Jazz song, the dreamy atmosphere reminds during all the track, except in the sections where Al DiMeola goes nuts with his extraordinaire solos remembering that the rock element is also present.

"The Romantic Warrior" starts again with a dreamy keyboard intro and DiMeola helps to achieve the atmosphere with his acoustic guitar, but suddenly Stanley Clarke takes the lead guiding the rest of the band with his bass well backuped by Lenny White in the drums.The song remains almost inalterable for several minutes allowing all the musicians to show their skills in their respective instruments but always directed by Clarke who keeps the precise timing.

Around the middle of the track, DiMeola adds a Flamenco touch, it's hard to say which musician is better because they alternate carefully showing us how skilled they are but without loosing coherence, maybe too slow and predictable for my taste but still the performances are brilliant.

"Majestic Dance" reminds me of Jean Luc Ponty's masterpiece "Aurora", even when in this case the keyboards provide a Medieval touch, after the first minute you can expect anything, they go from Medieval Clavichord sections to a full jazzy explosion, this collision of sounds and styles is simply breathtaking. And then they take their Rocker costumes and hit us with everything they have, my favorite song from the album.

"The Magician" is another high point, probably the closer they get to Prog, the ethereal moods and atmospheres created by Corea remind clearly of Wakeman but of course less pompous, again the radical changes keep surprising the listener, the final section is captivating.

The mini epic "Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant" is supposed to be the central point and culmination of the whole concept of the album and fulfills it mission, soft dreamy passages interrupted by sudden explosions of power and energy and a extremely beautiful subjacent melody, a highlight and the perfect closer, 11 minutes of all that "RETURN TO FOREVER" can provide.

As everybody here knows Fusion is not my favorite sub-genre, but this is an album that doesn't deserve to be forgotten so much time in a box while less impressive alnbums are almost always in my Cd player, so I will keep it closer than ever before and play it from time to time.

The rating is not hard for me, not 5 stars material (I leave that for some Ponty albums and Visions of Emerald Beyond by Mahavishnu) because I could manage to live without listening it for years and I'm sure many Progheads can without any trouble, so essential is not (At least not for everybody), but rating with less than 4 stars would be a disrespect,. So that's my rating, a great addition for any Progressive Rock collection.

Report this review (#132594)
Posted Friday, August 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars A big display of musicianship that would make many musicians feel like they just picked up their instruments. Just think of a moment and think of what these four musicians are capable of playing. Chick Corea is among the best piano players you could think of in this genre, Al Dimeola's shredding technique may be on par with John Petrucci, and the rhythm section features extraordinary musicians. However, hearing this album makes me wonder if they are doing the "show-off" or really putting effort into songwriting. The album seems to lack good musical ideas, melodies and riffs. The music doesn't make me feel almost anything. I tend to hear calculated odd time signatures, extremely complicated arrangements, and technical soloing.

Medieval Overture has a very eerie and majestic guitar-synthesizer unison in the middle section but most of the rest focuses on a very random and awkward synthesizer riff. The Sorceress is better, being a pleasant, if unexciting, laid back track that leaves room for improvisation. Romantic Warrior is my favorite track here, because it displays some good themes. There are some riffs that are too acrobatic for my tastes but they don't interfere with the song too much. Majestic Dance doesn't sustain my interest as it puts too much emphasis on speed/instrumental acrobatics and some of the keyboard sounds make it sound lighthearted and a bit out of place. Talking about lightheartedness, The Magician is completely silly and has nothing but pointless noodling except for an excellent electric guitar solo near the end. Duel of the Jester starts very epic with a magnificent synth riff reminiscent of the middle section of "Medieval Overture" but the song is nothing more than a good jam in the first half and a collection of odd themes and riffs in the second half that is extraordinarily anti-climatic, considering that the album ends here.

I'll recommend this for people who take a big interest in listening to complex music and don't find melodies as essential as I do.

Report this review (#134750)
Posted Friday, August 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Based on the reviews, it seems that you either love this album or find it a bit average. I guess I tend to think that Romantic Warrior is a bit on the uninspired side. Not that these guys aren't trying--there are plenty of great riffs, killer percussion bits, true proggy moments, and even some places where all four guys are rocking simultaneously. Unfortunately, most of these songs really don't hold up well and sound more like bits of ideas jammed together. There'll be a di Meola riff section, then a Corea synth bit, and maybe some rocking if we're lucky. In fact, I'd venture to say that there are only two or three good songs on this album. Romantic Warrior sounds like something Gentle Giant or PFM would come up with if they decided to try fusion, and the results are decent, but certainly not great.

The highlights: Sorceress, Romantic Warrior. Here the boys are all on the same page, and the results are quality music played with obvious energy and skill. Sorceress is a funky number and really finds a great groove, with a nice balance between melody and virtuosic playing (especially some piano runs from Corea and di Meola riffs). They also picked a killer song for the title track: a moody, jazzy number that never gets boring in its 11 minute run-time. EACH member integrates his distinct virtuosic playing expertly here (and like nowhere else on the album, in my opinion), but special note goes to Clarke on bass for some remarkable work.

The rest. The other four songs aren't bad, but they just seem to wander in and out of actual good music, and each of the members seem to make too much of an effort to get out of each other's way, and the result is just not cohesive for me. Medieval Overture has some truly incredible fusion moments, and Majestic Dance has some killer di Meola rocking, but neither can keep up the energy throughout. The Magician has some great spacey keyboard/guitar melody, but the goofy/silly parts spoil it somewhat for me, and Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant is simply overlong at nearly 12 minutes.

If you want to rock, don't start here: go find Hymn for the Seventh Galaxy. If you want a combination of very playful prog, smooth jazz, and virtuosic playing, this might be right up your alley. Maybe this is fusion at it's apex. If that's the case, I choose to rock instead!

Report this review (#141351)
Posted Monday, October 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars An absolute masterpiece.

This album was lent to me by a dear friend of mine, and just about every other musician in my high school that listens to it eventually falls in love with it.

This is fusion's pinnacle of "progressive" music, especially considering it's a instrumental conceptual album with the music itself artistically telling it's own story. I suppose it could be argued that the album isn't the best album in either fusion or progressive rock genres, but the two are almost perfectly combined in this true piece of art. Chick Corea certainly outdid himself with this album, driving more into rock than ever before while still maintaining the prominent element of jazz music abroad: improvisation. Almost everything he produces is, well, weird in the world of music, even jazz-fusion. But this album is as close to perfect as complex musical compositions go. Now I will admit it took me quite a bit of listening to fully appreciate this, but listening to the album even now and it's obscure genius, I'm not at all surprised. Everything in this piece takes fusion to the next level of progressive quality, the chord changes, structures, diverse arrangements for each instrument, sound effects, etc. What's more, the band Return To Forever is a four member fusion all-star lineup, each musician one of the best fusion players of their instruments who ever lived. I highly recommend this album for both progressive listeners looking for a fusion album or fusion listeners looking for a progressive album. This band is simply amazing, each of their albums is great in it's own way, and I feel that this album is the most amazing of all.

Report this review (#142819)
Posted Monday, October 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#143185)
Posted Tuesday, October 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars What a fantastic fusion album created by amazing musicians. I recently just got into Return to forever and i was amazed the first time i listened to the album. Each track is just simply great. The opening medieval overture starts of the album just right. Chick Corea is at his best on the keys,Stanley Clarke with his great funky bass playing,Lenny White with his awesome drumming, and Al Dimeola doing what he does best on the guitar. Each musician is showing of their great skills on their instruments. My favorite tracks are the romantic warrior,and the duel part1 and 2,the best song on the album.What a great way to end a Fusion masterpiece. If your just getting into fusion start of with this. A great musical performance!
Report this review (#145805)
Posted Thursday, October 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars Easily one of the more enjoyable and accessible fusion albums out there, featuring a fun, complex, and energetic set of songs heavy on personality and virtuosity and devoid of abstract avant-garde which makes fusion hard to listen to for some newcomers.

Romantic Warrior starts strong and ends strong, with plenty of style dazzle in between, from the solid grooves of Sorceress, the impossibly dramatic increasingly impressive virtuosity of the title track (Clarke's bass BURNS!), to the light-hearted and spirited Majestic Dance; lots of moods and lots of class.

Romantic Warrior has the band sounding their tightest and most polished, and is far and away THE Return to Forever to own, especially for someone just discovering the genre.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: NA Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#156831)
Posted Thursday, December 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Hell yes, this is what Jazz Fusion's all about.

Well, for starters. Who is RTF? Well for the intimates, they ARE Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke, two of the most incredible musicians in Jazz Fusion and even music. Chick is the kind of guy that makes you say: wow, god damn, this man can absolutely play everything. Well it's true, he can. And Stanley Clarke is just the king of bass, I mean just listen to him.

This album is absolutely crazy. First off I would like to say that the essence of this albums amazement is of its line-up, all of the musicians are top class. You don't often get such musicians, these guys are extremely creative. I love also the fact that at least every musician wrote at least one song (except for Chick who wrote three), and each song really reveals the musician's personality: White has a funky side of things, Meola is more of a rock person and Clarke is the more complex / avant-garde type.

1) Medieval Overture: A quite weird composition by Chick, but amazing nonetheless. I would just like to state out that this album is very different from other RTF records. This one completely travels through funk, cool jazz and synth aspirated music. This song is the one that resembles their old stuff the most. It's really fast, and contains really cool riffs. Not the best, as a matter of fact my least favorite, but that doesn't mean anything though.

2) Sorceress: My favorite tune. It starts with a nice funky rhythm and a nice funky tune played by Chick. This is Lenny White's song, it shows that he has a calmer way, but it's packed with heavy guitar solos and killer riffs. The key changes are absolutely amazing, and there's a duo solo, like a guitar vs. piano thing going on at the end of the song. Bliss.

3) The Romantic Warrior: Chick's second song. Shows that he's not only insane. This piece is entirely acoustic. The intro is amazing; it's as soothing as it is epic. Same for the chorus, it's extremely bad ass.

4) Majestic Dance: Al Di's kick ass composition. This one's much more of a rock, but with lots of weird bass and synth everywhere, you're not really sure of what's going on. You've never really heard this on any RTF album to be honest. The guitar's heavy leads go great with everything in a song, because it really sounds like a Majestic Dance.

5) The Magician: Now this is a weird one. Its Clarke's song, you can quickly know it's him because of the crazy bass in the beginning. When I heard this, the first kind of magician I could think of was a Disney-like magician. Making some sort of crazy performance by himself. Controlling all elements, you know. It goes from epic to soft to terrifying to epic again, to crazy, to AH! It's berserk, and absolutely amazing. Might I add, this is where Meola's solos are the best in the whole album.

6) Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant (Parts I & II): Chick's finish. It starts off perfectly, it's even better live though. Chick let himself out this time, first it's calm and very atmospheric. Then there's moog and crazy [&*!#] everywhere, with wacky leads including bass and drums. It defines the album's name and to it's whole Epic/Medieval look. It's awesome

To conclude, It's a masterpiece of Jazz Fusion. GRIMFURG REALLY APPROVES.

Report this review (#159444)
Posted Monday, January 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Great jazz/fusion album. All four members of Return to Forever are quite talented, and they do seem to enjoy showing that off, but I don't mind. The musicianship is fantastic throughout, and there is not a weak song on this album, though I don't think I would go so far as to call it a masterpiece. The songs are all, like the genre states, fusions of jazz and rock, and this one seems to lean further towards the rock side than a lot of the jazz-rock bands, and features a typical rock line up of guitar, bass, drums, and keys, and lacks the horn section common in much jazz. The music is very technical, probably to the point of what a lot of people would say lacking emotion. Don't go into listening to this expecting a great emotional revelation, but it is just fun music to listen to. The musicians are all obviously having a good time making these songs and the listener should as well. I think the highlights of this album tend to be the longer tracks, as my favourites are The Romantic Warrior and Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant.
Report this review (#160025)
Posted Sunday, January 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I Don't really know how to express my astonishment with Return to Forever I first got into the Chick Corea band-wagon when I listened to a few recordings with him and Victor Wooten. I decided it was time to acquire more of his music. I first (and you're going to laugh) acquired some extra Chick tunes when I received the Songs of West Side Story a soundtrack that featured Chick re-doing some of the musicals' classic tunes. I was amazed! Shortly after I heard one of my good amigos saying how good Romantic Warrior was and how that album was one of his top favorites. I then ran and acquires some of the tunes of the album (eventually leading to all six of them).

I started listening and wow, I was amazed with the musicianship in the first couple of minutes of the track Medieval Overture then onto my favorite track Sorceress where bassist Stanley Clarke features some impressive technical work. The album has a similarity with is nice Jazz-rock-Fusion styles that balance so well with the piano work done by Chick. It makes a crossover among genres so well, it's hard to even tell how that is progressive and that is fusion. An incredible instrumental album that I highly recommend! It serves well for any Jazz lover looking for something new in the genre. Look no further, Return to Forever Romantic Warrior is your start to a whole new world of awesomeness!

Report this review (#160175)
Posted Tuesday, January 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars (I will be seeing RTF at the Denver Paramount Theater on June 3, 2008 and was compelled to review the three CDs featuring the classic lineup of Corea, Dimeola, Clark and White).

Romantic Warrior was the third and final release by the RTF lineup featuring Corea, Di Meola, Clark & White. It hit the market in 1976, the year I was a freshman in high school. To say that this record changed my life is an understatement.

I will be brief and to to the point:


Certainly nothing in the prog rock world comes close to the complexity and ingenuity of Romantic Warrior. Not even Zappa in his heyday, or ELP, or Genesis, or King Crimson or any other prog rock band has made music of this caliber. Not Vai, nor Emerson, Wakeman or Rudess have come close to the level of musicianship that was put on display on this recording for the ages.

As I look through my music collection the ONLY recordings/compositions that are in the same league as those found on Romantic Warrior are the piano concertos by Chopin, Mozart and Rachmaninoff; and Bach's Brandenburg concertos. Not even Miles' legendary Bitches Brew, or any of his Quintet recordings, are in the same league as Romantic Warrior.

There should be a special category on progarchives to rate records like Romantic Warrior, since FIVE stars is NOT ENOUGH! I am shocked by those giving this record anything less.

Report this review (#165208)
Posted Thursday, March 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is one of the great fusion records of all time. The chemistry between all four is phenomenal and I especially like the way Al Dimeola puts his all into the lines he creates. He was enamored with Chick and shows he wants to impress his boss. I would recommend this recording to anyone who has an open appreciation to jazz in the 70's. It may not please the jazz purists, but it took jazz into a higher realm for me.
Report this review (#174654)
Posted Saturday, June 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars The most jazzy thing I have ever been listening to, is National Health. Fusion is a type of music I have been avoiding like the plague itself. Hence; I am a novice here. I only got this album because it is recommended by Prog Archives. And rightly so !! It is my understanding that Romantic Warrior was Chick Corea's attempt of dipping in and perhaps cashing in on the big progressive rock scene at that time. That was when ELP and Yes was the big names. Yes, once upon the times, the dinosaurs ruled this planet......... In any case; the result is an album with a massive crossover appeal to those of us who are more into the Canterbury scene and symphonic rock than fusion. The musicianship is staggering here and really impresses even a tone-deaf person like myself. The music is superb too. In particular; the title track and Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant is superb. I love that jazzy parts of that latter songs and I am afraid it is turning me into a jazz-head too. HELP !!! This is most certainly an album well worth checking out. It is an excellent addition to anyone's music collection.

4 stars and a big thank you to Prog Archives for pointing me in the direction of this album.

Report this review (#186401)
Posted Sunday, October 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Return to Forever, along with the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report, was one of the best and one of the most well-known jazz fusion groups of the 70s. Like the other two mentioned above, Return to Forever consisted of several members of Miles Davis's band from the Bitches' Brew era.

The music here is instrumental jazz fusion. The sound is a mixture of progressive rock, classical music, and jazz. It has a very medieval feel to it, as foreshadowed by the album cover and the song titles. The band has massive talent in every position, with each song carrying a display of chops from each member. DiMeola's guitar playing is at a speed that rivals that of neo-classical shredders such as Malmsteen, but his delivery is much more varied and enjoyable. He does it in both clean and distorted tones, and in mostly major keys or modal runs. Corea is on the same level, tearing out brilliant piano runs and a couple of blazing synth solos. Stanley Clarke and Lenny White are a powerful rhythm section, keeping a great beat, rockish in some parts, funky in others, throwing in fills that display their technical ability.

I don't think that there is a bad song on this album. Are songs are impressive and enjoyable, each in their own way. This is one of my favorite, if not my absolute favorite, jazz fusion album so far.

Report this review (#189555)
Posted Sunday, November 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I used to think for a long time that a huge part of this album was just unnecessary noodling, as if the musicians were trying to play fast and complex just for the sake of it, and that was why I couldn't hold my attention to this album. It bored the hell out of me sometimes. So I gave it another listen. I was hopeless, I whought it would be just the same: I would enjoy Duel Of The Jester... only (I still think it's their best piece on the recording, and the one that led me to it). Luckily, I was wrong. Okay, it's HIGHLY technical, but finally I could understand all the sense of this, and the compositions are just superb, as is the musicianship (BIG names in the genre). It's very polished and perfectly executed from the beginning to the end. You can hear every second was thought, there isn't unnecessary improvisation here, it sounds tight as hell. But beware, it may take a long time to finally 'click' on you (as it happened with me). But it's a masterpiece definitely, I wish more bands make this kind of music these days.

Rating: 4.5/5

Report this review (#191615)
Posted Wednesday, December 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Return To Forever - Romantic worrior has changed my taste of listening to music from Prog.Rock to Jazz Rock/Fusion. I heard this album in November, 2008 by searching the best albums on Prog Archives and i finally found it. First time when i heard this album, it just seemed a normal album to me but after listening to it more than 2 or 3 times i realized that it is amazingly and very technically played by all four memebers which are the legends. Every member of this band in this album has done a tremendous job which shows the best telent ever. None of the instrumentals of this album is worst but every sinlge is superb including Sorceress, Majestic Dance & Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant, which are the great compositions, and clean & attracitve solos have been played by the guitarist Al Di Meola and very unique drum beats have been managed by the Jazz Legend drummer Lenny White. This album is basically for those who understand the real music. It is seriously the right of this album to be given 5 Rating because below 5 rating is not the justice with this album. If there would be 6 star rating then i had happily given it to this album.

I recommend every Jazz & Prog Rock Lover to buy this album without thinking for a second and then listen to it. Once you start listening to it then i hope that it will never end. Please don't miss it at any cost.

Being a big fan of Rush, Camel, Yes, ELP, Kansas, Mahavishnu Orchestra & LTE, i still have not found the album like this, which is the great honour to this band.

This Masterpiece should have in your collection because this type of music you will still not find in this modern time of music.

Report this review (#198439)
Posted Sunday, January 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars You'll notice in this entry that it mentions Chick Corea plays keyboard(s). Yes indeed, he plays keyboards alright. He plays every keyboard in the book, of which, IMHO drags down the recording big time. It's as though Chick Corea raided the closets of Il Volo, PFM, Eela Craig, SFF, Banco, ELP, Rick Wakeman, and Kerry Minnear of Gentle Giant and decided throw them all on this album(check out the sampler on this website of the _Dual Of The Jester And The Tyrant_...the whole album is like this). The other distraction is Stanley Clarke where his popping bass appears on almost every track. Don't get me wrong, I love Stanley Carke but I prefer him on his solo albums. Then there's Al DiMeola, playing his axe at breakneck speed but not really saying anything. Lenny White? Well, he's drumming all over the place as per usual. To these ears, it all sounds like they phoned in their contributions while leaving Chick Corea to his vices to finish'er off. All depending on your tastes, this is a great album for keyboard fanatics, but as far as outstanding FUSION, there's a lot to be desired. Stick to HYMN OF THE SEVENTH GALAXY from 1973(which is a 5 star masterpiece).
Report this review (#198539)
Posted Monday, January 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars I'm not at all an expert on Jazz-Rock/Fusion and I haven't (yet) heard very much that I like from this genre. But I immediately liked Romantic Warrior. The keyboards, the guitars, the drums and the basses are all played with enormous skill and urgency. The music is very complex yet somehow melodic and accessible. There is feeling in the playing and it is not just technical for the sake of it.

The problem I usually have with Jazz-Rock/Fusion music is that it leans too close to Jazz and contains too little Rock influences. Romantic Warrior is true Fusion in the sense that it is not just regular Jazz played with rock instruments. Still, there are many passages here that are close to Jazz. But there is just enough Rock to keep it interesting throughout for me.

The best tracks are the first and the last one. The Medieval Overture sounds a bit like an alarm bell at the beginning and I have indeed been using it as such for a couple of weeks now! So I wake up every morning to the sound of Romantic Warrior. There is no hurry to push the snooze button!

Romantic Warrior is a great album title and it has a great cover art too, and the music! Probably the best Jazz-Rock/Fusion album of all time and also one of the best all instrumental albums of any category. A great introduction for the Prog fan to Jazz-Rock/Fusion, I think.


Report this review (#199697)
Posted Sunday, January 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Four months ago I reviewed "Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy", "No Mystery" and "Where Have I Known You Before" all within about a week. When I came to this album I listened to it a couple of times and concluded that it wasn't nearly as good as the previous three records. Knowing how popular this album is I decided maybe I was burnt out on their music and needed a break, so here I am 4 months later, and guess what ? I still feel the same way. In fact I put on the other albums today as a comparison, and still feel this is for whatever reason my least favourite of those I already mentioned. Some of the reviewers here have described this album as being more Progressive, more Rock oriented or more Classical. All I know is that it doesn't excite me or leave me shaking my head from being so impressed like the previous three do.There's no accounting for taste right ? The keyboard sounds are part of the problem for me.

"Medieval Overture" opens with keys that sound ok I guess. Nice drumming 1 1/2 minutes in though, and I like the spacey synths before 2 minutes and the haunting vibe that follows.The tempo picks up and we get some nice bass after 3 minutes. Big finish. "Sorceress" has a funky rhythm as piano plays over top. DiMeola comes in and lights things up before 1 1/2 minutes as bass throbs. Lots of piano in this one. "The Romantic Warrior" opens with some good atmosphere as piano starts to tinkle and acoustic guitar comes and goes. Bass and drums come in around 3 1/2 minutes. I like the intricate guitar 5 1/2 minutes in. A lot going on 8 minutes in. It settles 10 minutes in. "Majestic Dance" opens with guitar which is more prominant on this track. The tempo shifts a lot on this song.

"The Magician" is not surprisingly Stanley Clarke's composition because he's all over it. I like when it settles and the guitar almost soars for a while. Not a fan of the keys that follow though.The guitar late is fantastic, so is the bass that ends it. "The Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant (Part I & Part II)" is the longest track at 11 1/2 minutes.The tempo picks up a minute in but settles quickly again. I like the guitar 2 1/2 minutes in, DiMeola is so fast. The tempo continues to shift. Nice bass and drums before 7 minutes as guitar joins in. Blistering guitar before 9 minutes. Great track thanks to Al mostly.

Lots of excellent music to enjoy here, just not one of my favourite RETURN TO FOREVER albums that's all. I am blown away though when I focus on any one of these four amazing musicians (not so much Chick though), hence the rating of a low 4 stars.

Report this review (#200125)
Posted Wednesday, January 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars While this is a very good album from a very talented band that includes Stanley Clarke, one of my bass idols, it moves between cheesiness and brilliance too many times. There are moments on this album that are absolutely brilliant, but either Corea or Meola will throw in cheesy tones that completely kill the moment. Sorceress is a prime example of that. There are times when the song sounds like a crappy demo song for an effects pedalboard advertisement and other times, specifically Corea's solo, where it soars as high as any of the band's other brilliant work. I am constantly amazed by Stanley Clarke's bass chops; he can go straight from being in the background supporting the groove to riffing light speed bass solos in the blink of an eye. The best tracks, in my opinion, are Medeival Overture, The Romantic Warrior, which unfortunately has as drawn out an ending as The Return of the King movie, and Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant. The other three tracks contain great moments, but they err a little too much on the cheesy side for me.
Report this review (#205579)
Posted Friday, March 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Return to Forever - Romantic Warrior (1976)

Though the '73 Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy was a big disappointed, this Romantic Warrior hits the spot the for me. RtF returns with an album that really has some fantasy and an album that seems to hold some of our beloved progressive spirit. This technical fusion outfit, with Chick Corea, Al DiMeola, Stanley Clarke and Lenny white finally became the 'super-group' it was supposed to be.

Return to Forever was influenced by medieval composition styles and made this unique combo of often heavy fusion with medieval characteristics on some tracks. More important, the band sounds very professional and has a well-balanced sound. No useless heavy distortions, no annoying sounding keys, not to much useless technical playing and the band even found a way to give there compositions some direction and meaning. Yes, RtF really showed what the possibilities were of their heavy fusion formula.

Side one is perhaps the stronger side. The opening track is still a bit chaotic, but the tight playing and perfect recording make the continues changing of themes acceptable and even enjoyable. Sorceress is a perfect fusion track with great rhythm and beautiful solo's. The title track continues this course, but expands the possibilities. Romantic Warrior is my favorite track of the band, and one of the best progressive fusion tracks I've ever heard. Great composition, great melody, great atmosphere, great form and meaningful solo's by all members. Side two is very technical and get's a bit quirky at times, but the music remains strong.

Conclusion. This is one of the few fusion albums I really think should be listened to by all fans of the progressive rock genre. It's sound stood the test of time perfectly and the compositions/atmospheres are strong. This shows that very technical performance by a super-group can have vary pleasant results. Four big stars.

Report this review (#211293)
Posted Tuesday, April 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Take 4 "out of this world" musicians and provide them with all the self expression freedom and research prog genre can give; add of course a dose of good taste and inspiration; result : "Romantic Warrior".

This record is a landmark for many reasons. 1st : Not only Germans (Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerck) were experiencing electronic music; in USA Mr. Larry Fast ground-broke with "Electronic Realizations for Rock Orchestra" (1974) (and in France Jean Michel Jarre did it too with "Oxygen" (1976) - hey, forget the commercial Jarre, "Oxygen" is first class electronic prog ). Larry Fast also upgraded NEKTAR in "Recycled" (1975) with his innovative use of synthesizers. In my modest this side of the world opinion, CHICK COREA was influenced by this trend, as "R. Warrior" presents "surrealistic" prog specially in awesome tracks 1,2,5 and 6.

I read Sinkadotentree review and he seems to like more the previous RETURN TO FOREVER albums than "R. Warrior". It's easy to understand his opinion as the 3 previous records I'm also fan from 1973, 74 and 75 presents breathtaking technical skill performance melted with top sentimental prog inspiration. We are talking about gifted musicians. But "R. Warrior" incorporates a different vanguard sound.

2nd : Mr. Lenny White and Stanley Clarke ( How can they do that ?! ) who really knows how to GO WITH A SWING. Before BEATLES here are the roots of all future rock acts : the Black American music. Prog came from Europe which music scale comes from classic music composers (Bach, Mozart and so on), they are always within 7 harmonic notes, no matter how difficult is classic music execution, we are inside an harmonic scope, we are safe with beautiful soundscapes. So Jazz breaks it with the dissonant note expanding and opening horizons to create. (Is this why Keith Emerson who use jazzy elements goes where Rick Wakeman don't step ?)

So in "R. Warrior" we have the authentic happy and free swing rhythm section meeting beautiful emotional arrangements from classic music. Ad to it aesthetic breaks, synth innovations, mid 70's top sound quality and cover productions; incredible as always Al di Meola on guitars; surely RETURN TO FOREVER made a little revolution to metamorphose Jazz-rock into prog with "R. Warrior" !

Report this review (#214162)
Posted Thursday, May 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Time when Chick had invented the creation of reformative Jazz with the group and ECM of Miles might have been a moment when choices were expanded for him and the frame of Jazz was jumped over with various musicians. The knowledge that he is performed with Stan Gets and Miles Davis and obtained explodes with his originality and imagination in the 70's.

After RTF had been announced to the world for the first time in 1972, people got drunk on music that felt the love and happiness. It was live time of the time of the start 1973 year from this 1972 for RTF including Steve Gadd that supported their rhythms enough when the depth of the creation of Chick was made known to the world. And, Chick leaves the musician who trusts it and works on the music of harder impregnable defenses. It was not a reason that gave up RTF at the first time by Chick and came to hate it. However, having changed into the group that changes the form of the band and comes to the front the color of Chick is true in RTF from 1973. This might catch and people catch for RTF as the second time. Its pursuing a perfect idea of Chick resulted. And, it has exactly changed the color of the band into a thick color by changing the guitar player to Al Dimeola.

RTF at the second time pulls the act in 1976. It is this album. This album for the friend of Chick to make the poetry of poet's Neville Potter a theme might be an album of which the color of Chick went out considerably thickly. There was considerably an acknowledgment level of RTF because the member had already announced Solo Album respectively.

The performance of advanced "Medieval Overture" and each member can be satisfied with a high tension in a special rhythm. 「The Romantic Warrior」

Progressive music and the sound are invented in the history of RTF in this album. As for the music character, the person who likes Prog Rock might come to like it a little, too.

Report this review (#220468)
Posted Tuesday, June 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars 4.5 stars. This is what Jazz Rock Fusion should be! Bring 4 great musicians together and let them have some fun. I can replay the album 3 times in a row and not get bored. The guitar playing from Al Di Meola is brilliant in places. Chick Corea adds interesting keyboards throughout, and the bass playing by Stanley Clarke is continually excellent. The drums never really stand out for me, but that is OK, they are well done, just not really featured. I am having trouble deciding if this album qualifies as a masterpiece or not. It is one of my fave fusion albums for sure, so 5 stars it s I guess.
Report this review (#227976)
Posted Thursday, July 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This was my introduction to Jazz Rock/Fusion prog or whatever you may call it. And I have to say, I was not disappointed. The album cover is what allured me in the first place and I just decided to get me a copy. Awesome guitar work by the master Al di Meola and wonderful musicianship from Chick, Lenny, and Stanley, each proving to be powerful components of RTF. All the songs have groove and funk, which I especially found to be quite nice. A little hard to digest for those interested in Jazz Fusion but after a few listens, it'll get you. This album is surely an excellent addition to one's collection.

1. "Medieval Overture" - 8.5/10

2. "Sorceress" - 9/10

3. "The Romantic Warrior" - 8/10

4. "Majestic Dance" - 8/10

5. "The Magician" - 9/10

6. "Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant" - 8.5/10

51/6 = 85% = 4 stars!

Report this review (#251988)
Posted Saturday, November 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Quiet One
3 stars Prog Warrior

Return to Forever's Romantic Warrior has always been a dilemma for me since it features technically perfect musicans and some brilliant instrumental crafting, but the overall result has never striked me as technical Jazz Rock or something really jazzy which is what you expect from Corea & Friends; Romantic Warrior has always striked me as a Prog Rock album played by jazz-leaned musicians. And besides sounding more Prog Rock than Jazz Fusion, it has never been an album I enjoyed much due to its prog-rock-focus.

Right away with the opener entitled 'Medieval Overture' with its flashy modern keyboards and the ever-changing moods, even including some resemblance to Gentle Giant's medieval roots and weird complexity, you know that Return to Forever is not the jazz rock band which played the raw Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy and the elegant Where Have I Known You Before anymore.

The second tune called 'Sorceress' is the only part from Romantic Warrior which can be classified as straight Jazz Rock, with its funky but steady rhythm being the responsible of the inevitable addictiveness to the tune. However the main performer is Chick Corea with an excellent blend of various synths, a piano, an electric piano and some floating keyboards, all played with such proficiency and delicacy, you really can't ask for more. One of the band's greatest tunes.

As soon as 'Sorceress' finishes the title track begins in a very majestic way with Corea's fascinating piano, Meola's marvellous acoustic guitar and Stanley's upright bass. However that's only the intro, it then gets into a jazzy state with an excellent rhythm base which each member has the chance to step in and make an unbelievable solo. Superficially it may seem very much as a jazz rock tune because the musicians play unmistakably in a jazz rock manner, but the composition itself if you pay attention to the details you'll notice more of a prog-feel than a jazz rock one.

Next track is 'Majestic Dance' and this tune confirms that this is not Return to Forever playing jazz rock if not prog rock. Meola's catchy guitar riff then accompanied by Corea's synths is undeniably in the prog-vein. Anyway, Meola being the composer, he's undoubtedly the highlight here with his mind-blowing shredding. However the proof that Majestic Dance is inclined to prog rock are the bizarre passages with Corea's synth and a keyboard sound akin to a xylophone which reminds you of Ruth Underwood. It's good, but those bizarre passsages are unnecessary.

Romantic Warrior continues in the prog-vein with 'The Magician'. A frenetic tune full of oddities which reminds you once again of Gentle Giant's medieval influences and bizarreness. Probably the weirdest tune in Return To Forever's catalogue, and that's only because it yells Prog! Technically amazing, though zero pleasure listening to it

The album finishes with the highly acclaimed among Prog fans, 'Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant'. It's a 11 minute piece full of intricating sections varying from completely technical stuff to some soft jazzy-inclined passages to prog-esque stuff. The main performers are Chick Corea and Al Di Meola both dueling with some of the finest soloing I've ever heard, however there's also a lot of room for Lenny and Stanley to stand-out. Overall, a Prog instrumental which many prog bands wished they could make, however for my personal taste I would take any simple but addictive funky jazz rock tune to this technical show-off.

As a great mixture of Prog Rock and Jazz Fusion, they succeeded, no doubt. But unfortunately, they didn't really succeed to please me with the exception of the magnificent fusion track, 'Sorceress' and bits of others.

So, the conclusion to Romantic Warrior is a no-brainer for me, it's a refined and complex Prog Rock record made by jazz inclined musicians, however most of it doesn't strike a chord with me, the excessive medieval interludes and solos just seem to show-off and don't fit, it's rather unpleasant in places. I do want to make it clear that if you're looking for the jazz rock Return to Forever, this is not the place to come, either Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy or the even better Where Have I Known You Before are what a jazz rock fan should be looking for. Don't get me wrong I don't consider Romantic Warrior a Prog Rock record because it's technical, The Mahavishnu Orchestra has demonstrated being highly technical and even heavy, yet the jazz rock credentials are very clear in them, unlike in this record, Romantic Warrior with it's prog-esque cover-work and titles from the tunes, but more importantly, the clear way Return To Forever composed the tunes which is in a very prog-manner, so this can't, in my opinion, be considered a jazz rock classic either a masterpiece of that genre.

Anybody looking for some of the finest jazz rock musicians playing Prog Rock in a very technical way, Romantic Warrior is the way to go. However, I find most of the album just an exercise for the musicians, few of it really grabs me, thus 3 stars. If you're looking for a great technical Jazz Fusion band, Mahavishnu Orchestra's first two albums are mind-blowing and unique.

3 stars: Highly recommended to Prog fans, don't fear the Fusion label because anyone will admit that this record has more to do with Prog than with Fusion. For Fusion fans, well I'm sure you already have this, it's a classic because of its commercial success, but stylistically it's not really a Fusion masterpiece as 'Where Have I Known You Before'.

Report this review (#257602)
Posted Thursday, December 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Romantic Warrior, Return To Forever's sixth album, in my mind has just got to be one of the most beautifully crafted works of fusion available to the music lovers. Rock, jazz, funk, flamenco and classical overtones mingle wonderfully together from the first to final note, with little sprinklings of sci-fi and medieval- esque themes here and there. It is also very easily accessible, cleverly designed to captivate even those who usually would negate to entertain Jazz-Rock fusion yet without losing either the intelligence or general sensibilities of the genre. This record conveys a melting pot of emotion also; opening with the deeply mysterious Medieval Overture, filled with spacey synth and a pretty stellar performance on drums from Lenny White; track two, Sorceress, throws off the air of mystery, bringing the listener a sensual, funk themed groove, Al Di Meola brings in a few mouthwateringly good lead guitar passages reminiscent of Santana, followed by a beautiful, lengthy piano solo from Chick Corea which just has this track exploding with life; next up is The Romantic Warrior, evoking a sense of chivalry using the combined tenderness of piano, double bass and acoustic guitar (Look out for the brilliant performances from both Stanley Clarke and Al Di Meola on this one!); track four, I'm delighted to say, is a favourite of mine, the wonderous Majestic Dance! This MUST be at very least a candidate for the best opening riff in fusion! It's so exciting, with the whole band ON FIRE here. I adore this one simply because it allows me to enjoy the intelligence of jazz AND the raunchiness of 70's hard rock at the same time...what's not to love?; The Magician then takes the listener back to the mystery evoking feeling again with spiralling glissando- like lead work from everyone in the band, suddenly turning to a childlike, innocent theme from Corea playing a flute like melody on the synths. A small fanfare is played by the band on this track also, which reminds one of a jousting tournament infact! Nevertheless, this bizarre musical landscape fades into another soaring guitar riff from Di Meola nearing the end of the song; the final track of the album Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant (Part 1 And 2) again begins with another mysterious and very epic opening, descending into a short almost Carribean theme, down into some straight fusion Jazz with an amazing guitar and keyboard solo within. After this the track becomes quite heavy and funky with a passage reminiscent of Pink Floyd's 'Have A Cigar' with some excellent bass and guitar work. You will find some nice classical keyboard parts near the end, plus a 'big' finale to boot. The overall production of the record is astonishingly well done. You can FEEL the crunching of the bass and the depth of the synths, guitar and drums through the speakers, it is an attack on the ears of the listener at full throttle. This is a fantastic example of fusion at its finest...enjoy!
Report this review (#258539)
Posted Wednesday, December 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars All throughout Romantic Warrior, one will find very engaging, interesting, and often downright cool parts- the bass riff that opens The Sorceress, about 1:12 into Medieval Overture, and the beginning part of Majestic Dance. However, the problem is that, while they are capable of making very good laid-back jazzy stuff to fill things in between these spectacular moments, they sometimes drift off into passages of instrumentation that just aren't all that interesting- they don't do it as much or as severely as ELP, but they do it. Romantic Warrior could possibly have used a bit of streamlining and fuzz-trimming, but beyond that, there are good fun times to be had listening to this album of dizzying talent, fraught with solos and riffs and talent in excess.
Report this review (#277689)
Posted Monday, April 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars Ha!

At first, I want to state few facts. I thought that this kind of Jazz (I can find on PA) is quite modern sounding music and cannot be applied to medieval. Of course, Jazz is now era of more or less second half of 20th century, so it is nostalgic now, but Middle Ages ? But it works.

Secondly, cover of this record looks like some kind of Symphonic group. Yep, I can imagine something like that. Quite easily, but again, even combination of these elements sounds at least weird at first look (do you look with your ears and hear with your eyes ? you don't ? try it, it's funny and satisfying).

So, does this work ? Am I imagining these events of times long gone ? Am I few hundreds years back and enjoying the view (full of dirt, dirty people, rough behavior but also a lot of knights, most of them following Chivalry code and acting as gentleman soldiers). Track that reminds me these times most is probably The Magician, on other I have to use an imagination a lot.

4(+), provided that you forget about medieval and jazz music and will just enjoy it. It can be hard though. Probably the best Jazz approach on these times, but it's not so favourite theme on Jazz records (smile)

Report this review (#279266)
Posted Saturday, April 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is an excellent album. I've only heard "Where Have I Known You Before" by the same band and I much prefer this one. It's a very complex mixture of fusion jazz. The single most impressive thing is that they're all completely synched in with one another making the overall album seem very simple. There's great keyboard work by Chick Corea and one or two of his slower bassy parts sounds spookily like "Apocalypse Now" to me! Nice album cover too which seems to fit the mood of the music. Refreshing and attractive with great analog synths. Close to five stars, but I'll stick with four.
Report this review (#284001)
Posted Saturday, May 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Romantic Warrior is one of those handful of Jazz Rock/Fusion albums that have crossed the barrier of genre fans only material and is considered one of the masterpieces of progressive rock.

It's true that, with this release, Return To Forever have moved even further into prog domain. Unfortunately this transition wasn't without its flaws and made the band remove most of their magnificent Latin music influences that made them stand out among their competition. What we get here sounds more like a Symphonic Prog band trying to play Jazz Rock/Fusion than the other way around, which is quite an accomplishment from a band of their caliber. Still, the biggest question here is whether Romantic Warrior actually deserves the reputation that it has accumulated over all these years. My answerer is a definite no, but that doesn't mean that the record doesn't have its share of highlights.

The album begins with Chick Corea hitting a pretty excellent groove with his keyboards and we see immediately a huge change in the band's style. But this is only the beginning and only a few minutes into Medieval Overture the music transforms into ELP type of jam (+guitar) that should appeal to all prog fans. The next part of the album, including the title track, is in my opinion the weakest. Return To Forever just goes through their usual routines by creating a great lead melody that later moves over to the band's rhythmic section in order to give Al DiMeola and Chick Corea room to jam away for a few minutes. Nothing too spectacular, if you ask me, but thankfully they create enough momentum to keep me entertained for the time being.

The albums side two is where things finally return to the level that was displayed on the opening track. Majestic Dance and The Magician are another two Symphonic Prog-influenced compositions that keep the jam and soloing-work at just the right level without detaching me from the main lead sections. Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant is where Return To Forever finally finds their own domain in this interesting new direction that they craved out for themselves. The music progresses much slower creating an atmosphere like I've never heard before and once Chick Corea plays the lead melody I completely bow down into submission. This is exactly what the band needed to play throughout the album in order to hit it off with me. This was unfortunately not the case and what I get instead from Romantic Warrior is another excellent Jazz Rock/Fusion record that just doesn't reach the level that its reputation might imply.

If you're a fan of progressive music and have never heard a Return To Forever-record then this is definitely the place to start. Just make sure to keep your expectations at a reasonable level and Romantic Warrior just might become an essential part of your music collection!

***** star songs: Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant (11:26)

**** star songs: Medieval Overture (5:14) Sorceress (7:34) The Romantic Warrior (10:52) Majestic Dance (5:01) The Magician (5:29)

Report this review (#284012)
Posted Saturday, May 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Romantic Warrior is one of the highest and most rated fusion albums on PA. This is no surprise given how 'Prog' this album is. During their career the band gradually switched from spontaneous combustion and jazzy improvisation to thoughtful composition, with lots of attention to melody and virtuosity. And since that is the holy trinity of Prog virtues, the album became very popular.

And rightfully so, while it doesn't satisfy my hunger for the freely flowing creativity of early 70s fusion, it is nothing less then an excellent release from a Prog perspective. The sound is smooth and rather slick but never cheesy, a trap carefully avoided by strong melodies, fitting virtuosity and rich complexity. The synths are all over the places and a bit dated sometimes but it's nothing that should bother prog fans. If it wasn't for the rather stale Gentle Giant style exercises in songs such asMajestic Dance and Magician this album would deserve nothing less then masterpiece standing from me.

Romantic Warrior is not only a commercially successful jazz-rock classic but simply a recommended entry point for newcomers to fusion, specifically for fans of Action-Prog like ELP, Dream Theater, Yes and Gentle Giant.

Report this review (#307985)
Posted Tuesday, November 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the best fusion album of the 1970's. It is also the most fusion out of all the 70's fusion albums. In "Romantic Warrior" we have a FUSION of classical music, funk, hard and prog rock, and jazz, all tied together with a latin flavor.

The bass playing of Stanley Clarke is phenomenal and he shows off why he is the best in the game. Al Di Meola's guitar work is impeccable to say the least. Fast and furious with latin-flamenco laced licks played on a distorted les paul-magnificent! Lenny White holds down the groove with his hard hitting funkesque beats. Last but not least, Chick Corea(probably the best jazz composer in the last 50 years-along with Davis, Mingus, and Hancock). Chick's Piano/keys are mind blowing, tasteful, and classy. He seems to always play the right notes to accentuate the mood of the music (more so than Jordan Rudess-haha!).

This album is a perfect 10 (or should I say 5). This is most definitely an essential piece to your collection!!!!!!

Report this review (#354700)
Posted Thursday, December 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars This is the album that turned me from being a casual fusion fan into a complete fusion maniac. And after thirty-five years, it still remains as one of my all-time favorite fusion albums.

Four of the six songs, Medieval Overture, Majestic Dance, The Magician and Dual Of The Jester And The Tyrant stand out as amazing combinations of jazz/rock fusion and tight symphonic prog. Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White and Al DiMeola show that they could keep up, and perhaps surpass, the best of the seventies giants. It still amazes me how fast these guys could play such complex music.

The other two songs, Sorceress and The Romantic Warrior, while played in a more traditional fusion style, are still fine pieces.

It's just a shame that after this masterpiece, Return To Forever broke apart, recording one lesser studio album, and a somewhat disappointing live set.

Report this review (#391222)
Posted Monday, January 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars An incredibly seminal album in my formative musical education, the four virtuosi involved in this album, all at the top of their game both technically and creatively, all giving stunning performances throughout. It still stuns me that Al was only 17 or so when he made this album with, by now, seasoned veterans Chick, Stanley and Lenny. It also stupifies me that drummer Lenny White has received so little due over the years. To my ears, he is incredible! He is so smooth, so "melodic"--if a drummer can be said to be so (which is probably why his solo projects and self-penned compositions are so likable/memorable.) Rather than go into detailed song-by-song review as I often do, suffice it to say that the music and performances here are stellar. Though the opener, Chick's "Medieval Overture" (5:14), doesn't capture much of a medieval vibe to me (no nods to medieval music that I can hear), it is no less impressive (8/10). The next offering, the funky Lenny White composition, 2. "Sorceress" (7:34) has some real ear candy in spacious, melody slapping rhythm roles and smooth, emotional soli. Chick's piano solo is vintage Chick--just awesome! Al throw's his weight around, Lenny's percussion play off the drums is breathtaking, and Stanley! Well, Stanley just kind of sneaks in his mastery on this one. (9/10) Then comes 3. "The Romantic Warrior" (10:52), an all-acoustic affair that just happens to be one of my all-time favorite fusion songs. (10/10) 4. "Magestic Dance" (5:01) opens like it's going to be a Led Zeppelin rock'n roll song--which might be explained by the fact that it's a Di Meola composition. The second section--a bit of circus cheese, and the weak repetitious keyboard bass line make this not quite up to par with the rest of the album's songs. (7/10) But then comes Stanley's tune, 5."The Magician" (5:29) which is pure prog heaven--ushering in stunning performances (if sometimes subdued and quirky) by all four performers--including a piccolo bass harmonics duet with a "micro" mini Moog piccolo! (9/10) The incredibly well-produced album closes with it's most dynamic and in-your-face tune in the form of an eleven minute epic, 6. "The Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant" (11:26) There are soli by each and every one of the artists on this one that are without doubt hailed in Prog Heaven in the "How is this humanly possible?" sound room. One of the most incredible songs you are likely to ever hear. (10/10)

All in all, I know the numbers don't quite add up to masterpiece status (88.33), but this is. It just is. Take my word for it.

Report this review (#427222)
Posted Sunday, April 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Romantic Warrior ? 1976 (3.3/5) 11 ? Best Song: Sorceress

Hey, this is the third 11 in a row, which means this band has arrived at a special juncture in their career. Chick has been playing around with solo output for a while (the debut album the band release being officially pegged as a Corea solo album in the first place), so this band finally achieves the Dustin Tate artistic stagnation award. It's still undeniably high class, the taste is never offended, but it sure can get a little boring if you attempt to actually pay attention to the songs. They ARE quite far away frm their soft beginnings. This album, akin to the last couple, ends up sounding like disruptive space jazz from the Horsehead Nebula. So, I'm at a loss for words. It's better than Rush, (which is slowly becoming one of my personal catch phrases) that much I can say. Gone is any semblance of pop structuring. It's all funk-rock-jazz-fusion meandering ? always majestic, always laden with Corea's deft key strokes, always given to excess and unmanageability, but we're here for that, we can leave that hat at the door. It's not that this album is so much different from te others in that it's the quintessence of their second mark sound. You have the funk, which bleeds into Meola's licks (heavily evident from the illustrious shuffling behind 'Sorceress') At the same time as I can truly be cowed by Sorceress, everything else lacks the same punch. Maybe it's the eleven minute title track, or the obnoxiously trivial Overture, but I'll be dipped in fried tar if I could ever call this music 'in front' music. Chalk it up to Return to Forever to invent ambient-less ambient.

Report this review (#440506)
Posted Friday, April 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The 1970s was a strange and unsettled time. A brutal war in Southeast Asia had ended as badly for the United States as it had begun, American cities were generally in decay and though 1976 was the nation's 200th birthday, it felt more like an untimely pun. In popular culture Evel Knievel was thrilling them on bikes never meant to jump such distances, David Carradine wooed the fledgling New Age culture every week on Kung Fu, a little underground dance scene called Disco was getting too big for its own good, KISS got their footprints in Hollywood, both The Waltons and The Partridge Family were huge and everyone had done, was doing, or would do cocaine at least once. It was as if the country yearned for something better but didn't know how to get it.

But the music, that was special. Britain may have owned the previous decade but by 1970, America had more than its share of great stuff in everyone from Santana and CSN to Blood,Sweat&Tears to a young Eddie Van Halen honing his skills at L.A. parties. And the fusion of jazz and rock had come of age in a big way. Though it went gold and was a zenith of modern rock fusion, Romantic Warrior was this version of RtF's last release and just as a hero who dies young, it was probably better not to see such an important group slowly wither away (especially due to L. Ron Hubbard). Some feel this was Chick Corea's "prog rock album" and though fair, that's a misleading label. There is little to remind of Genesis or Yes or King Crimson. It was, however, a musical explosion, and may have signaled both the commercial peak of the Fusion movement and the swan song of its golden age. Which is to say it's a fierce record. The lambent flicker of Corea's keys tap out 'Medieval Overture' counterpointed by the band, Clarke, White and DiMeola unified like a single being and tight as a warlock's butthole. The cut absolutely destroys and is entirely progressive as it breaks into a sci-fi send up, Stanley Clarke's childlike taunts, Lenny White a demon on his set, just on fire-- and 'Sorceress' shimmies down a city street past the lowriders and crap games with funk, Latin dance, all brought along by Corea's crisp piano lead.

The title gradually unfolds, hinting at what's to come. Our theme is soon revealed accented with the deep resonance of a bow to an acoustic bass. Al DiMeola shines on his nylon-string setting the tone for his own solo project that year and the track beautifully shifts to a rush of Latin jazz, deconstructing itself and ending before things get tedious. 'Majestic Dance' is much better than its dated opening and becomes an intricate little number with many fine changes, Corea's playful side and Clarke's unmistakable fingerprints. But it was 'The Magician' that made the second side of the LP so rewarding. After all, one had to listen well into the last half to hear this adorable bit of progressive jazzrock, and felt that much more pleased at having bought it. More grand science fiction themeology closes the show for very decent 'Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant'.

This is a case where though at moments flawed, we have a release so friggin good, so well done and significant, that it warrants five stars. God forbid anything ever be perfect.

Report this review (#447622)
Posted Friday, May 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Romantic Warrior hits you from the very beginning by futuristic and the same time medieval bravoure. The album is the best what fusion music can offer you. The music is written by all four geniouses playing here: Chick Corea, Al DiMeola, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White. Most of the music comes of course from the band's leader, legendary pianist Chick Corea. He however gives enough space for the rest of his friends who proves to be really his pears, in composing as well as in playing. The music is so inspiringly strong composed and played, it became instant classic in our scene back in seventies. And until now, there is little created that can top this album. An absolute must have for any fusion lover.
Report this review (#512747)
Posted Thursday, September 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Though most fusion fans swear by this album, personally I don't consider it a revolutionary and inspirational piece so much as a continuation of the classic-era Return to Forever sound as established from Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy onwards. To be honest, it sounds a bit tired-out to me, bringing little to the table which the three preceding albums hadn't provided in spades, but if you are a keen Return to Forever fan "more of the same" is probably precisely what you want. The medieval theme is an interesting twist, but ultimately prog bands such as Gentle Giant had updated medieval music for modern audiences in a much more innovative and compelling way, and here it seems to merely be a gloss over otherwise standard fusion. Three stars.
Report this review (#549300)
Posted Thursday, October 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wonderful Prog-Fusion Hybrid

There was a time that ROMANTIC WARRIOR topped PA's JF charts but it has slipped considerably over the last year or so. Reading through the reviews, I began to understand the mixed feelings but also was finally able to focus my own opinions on this album. ROMANTIC WARRIOR is not like most of the other fusion albums I know and love. It is much more composed, a bit more listener friendly. By 1976, fusion was not yet played out but was needing to evolve. Some bands were getting more complex and others moving toward a more smooth jazz feel. Here, the classic RTF lineup pulls in elements from prog a la Genesis, and create an album that satisfies my symphonic side that loves Tony Banks as much or more than my inner Coltrane lover. One would think this would delight fans on this site, but as seen in other reviews, more dedicated fusion fans aren't always convinced.

But I am. I love complex composed lines, and this album has some great intertwining leads between Chick Corea's keys, Al DiMeola's guitar, and sometimes Stanley Clark's bass. "Majestic Dance" has interplay that to me even foreshadows some of Dream Theater's instrumental interplay between Pertucci and Jordan Rudess or Derek Sherinian. There are some spacy sections as in "The Magician." There are even some slightly medieval melodic snippets a la Gryphon. DiMeola certainly gets a chance to burn on this disc, showcasing both his acoustic and electric chops.

The compositions are all interesting, and there is a nice variety of sounds that still cohere. There are funky elements, quirky humours sections, plenty of virtuosity, a little psychedelia that accompanies the usual JR/F sound. What I especially like about this album is the coherence of the group. All four of the musicians are phenomenal, but they balance very nicely. Stanley Clarke manages to keep the bass prominent in the mix without getting cheesy or overbearing. DiMeola confines his firebreathing to when it fits the tune. Corea draws on a wide variety of tones and keeps the energy strong. White holds it all together with plenty of syncopation and groove.

While jazz in general including fusion is based in improvisation, some of my favorite passages from fusion artists are not their solos but their compositions. ROMANTIC WARRIOR, to my ear, is one of the best in this regard. (Pat Metheny's THE WAY UP is a modern example.) Both of those albums were not even typical for their specific artists. Frankly, I wish there was more of this style available. But as it is, I consider this album essential as a prototype for composed fusion.

Report this review (#711523)
Posted Friday, April 6, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars While their past few albums had progressive aspects to them, Romantic Warrior takes it to a new level with a more refined sound. Jazz elements are still strong, and add an easygoing, yet harsh feel. The musicianship is wild, but there isn't as much noodling as you would expect (but there still is a lot), instead these guys lay out their sections more carefully first and solo appropriately second.

The album opens with 'Medieval Overture,' which as the name implies contains a number of moods and motifs that are developed in later songs. The tune goes from cheery and upbeat to slightly melancholic, but always has an intensity and complexity to it that I always find similar to Gentle Giant in parts.

'Sorceress' is probably the closest to pure jazz they get on the album. The groove is undeniably strong on this one, thanks to the funky bass and guitar. Corea also lays down some dreamy keys at times to give a laidback mood.

The title track is a very technically adventurous song, but consequently the weakest. There are a few good ideas here, but a whole lot more noodling and repetition. It takes a while to get moving, but when it does there is plenty of energy and groove to be had.

'Majestic Dance' is a whole lot of fun with its upbeat and cheery medieval atmosphere throughout. Directly contrasts this with its rather haunting opening, but eventually segues into some jovial keyboard parts.

'Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant' is a true prog-lovers song. There are many dynamic changes and a constant stream of epic melodies to keep the listener interested. The mood and tempo changes between the rocking parts and soft jazzy parts are numerous as well to make this tune very structurally complex.

Romantic Warrior is simply put the strongest jazz-rock album out there. But this should please both jazz fans and prog fans alike, as it truly is the best of both worlds.


Report this review (#771401)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars In 2006 I bought Romantic Warrior at a Eugene, Oregon St. Vincent de Paul. This very same place I surprisingly got a copy of Barclay James Harvest's Gone to Earth (American MCA pressing with die cut and original inner sleeve) and Greenslade's Time and Tide (U.S. Mercury label copy). When I brought it home I was a bit dismissive of the album. I was still in my "generally dismissive of fusion" mindset, having heard Mahavishnu Orchestra's The Inner Mountain Flame several years before and though it was just boring wankfest ("look how fast we can play"). My attitude towards that album really changed, the Inner Mountain Flame, as well as Birds of Fire are amazing, and Visions of the Emerald Beyond is by far the best album with the second lineup (I don't find Inner Worlds bad, but I do have to warn you the album gets a bad reputation because four songs feature vocals, and while I don't have too much problems with that, many do, as Mahavishnu Orchestra works best as an instrumental outfit).

As with my attitude change towards Mahavishnu Orchestra, so my attitude has changed with Romantic Warrior (I hadn't heard the other RTF albums yet). The lineup here included Chick Corea (naturally), Lenny White, Al DiMeola, and Stanley Clarke. Here they take on some very complex and elaborate fusion that leans more towards prog rock at times. It seems that Chick Corea was trying for a fusion answer of Rick Wakeman or Keith Emerson. The medieval influence of this album seem a bit overexaggerated. We're not exactly talking Gryphon here, or even Jethro Tull for that matter. The cover certainly has that medieval motif, and song titles definitely have that medieval thing going on, but to my ears it sounds like yer typical mid '70s fusion/prog thang. There's a couple passages on this album that sounded a bit fuzak-y, especially a couple of the piano passages and Stanley Clarke's bass playing, but those don't last long. I particularly enjoy the synths Chick Corea uses here.

Rock critic Robert Christgau hated this album. He gave it a D+ and called it "The Emerson, Lake & Palmer of jazz rock". Remember, he never liked ELP, so obviously he hardly meant that as a compliment. Progheads might agree on the "ELP of jazz rock" thing, but in a positive light.

It's hard to believe how popular this album is in fusion circles, given the challenging and complex nature of this album. Corea & Co. was obviously trying for a prog rock album, and the prog leanings obviously didn't bother record buyers at the time. I'm not entirely sure I'd give it a five star rating, given it took me many years to warm up to it, but definitely worth it.

Report this review (#1523677)
Posted Monday, February 1, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Progressive fantasy jazz rock

Often considered as RETURN TO FOREVER's best album, "Romantic Warrior" is more avant-garde and less funky than the band's previous efforts. Featuring a more important usage of electronic keyboards and rocking guitars, the musicians also incorporated symphonic/heavy prog elements from bands such as YES or KING CRIMSON in their music. Combined to the strange and charming synthesizers of Chick Corea, the result is quite original and inspired, while remaining accessible. The question is: what's the relation with the title?

"Medieval Overture" (by Chick Corea) is in fact not really medieval. Instead, this composition is a rather retro-futuristic spacey jazz/rock with various keyboards in the style of YES. Very nice, and sets the tone for the rest of the disc. Lenny White's "Sorceress" is the funkiest track of the record. Opening with a calm and groovy bass line, it contains a few guitar and keyboards interventions with a slight flavour of McCoy Tyner. In contrast, the title track (by Chick Corea) is fully acoustic. Majestic and delightful, however a bit too long.

Despite its title, the cool "Majestic Dance" is not very dancing but rather the rock-iest passage of the disc with its distorted guitars. This is logic when you know this was composed by Al Di Meola. Stanley Clarke's "The Magician" is the most complex composition, and also my least favorite track. Quite odd and changing, it incorporates fun small melodies. Ironically this song is the only one truly related to the album thematic, as it sounds a little medieval by moments. Once again by Chick Corea, "Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant" is the longest composition. Contrarily to the previous song, the music is more accessible and built around a nice melancholic melody as a main theme, with a few surprises inside...

Only after the listen can you understand the album title. "Romantic Warrior" do not naively refer to love or martial metal songs. Instead, it should rather been taken as an oxymoron that corresponds to the musical style: both calm and turbulent, light and ferocious. Everything is a matter of contrast. Unusual, original and with an unique sound, this 1976 opus is one of the proggiest and greatest achievements of its genre.

Very recommended to jazz rock / fusion aficionados or hard rock fans wanting to discover the style!

Report this review (#1570079)
Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars The jazz fusion scene features some of the most skilled musicians that are unmatched by most. One of the more notable examples is that of Return to Forever, a band fronted by piano virtuoso Chick Corea.

Return to Forever's Romantic Warrior features some of the most wonderful sounding pieces I've heard in awhile. The aforementioned frontman Chick Corea's skill with a plethora of different pianos, including but not limited to the Yamaha organ, Polymoog, and ARP Odyssey is nothing short of inspiring to a former keyboard player like myself. Every band member plays similarly; with eclectic and complex tempos but with a cool, smooth disposition, very similar to Corea's free jazz solo career. Lenny White's insane playing style is punchy and extremely effective especially with the beautiful chords presented by Corea and Stanley Clarke's ominous bass plucks. The album art as well as the style with which the acoustics are played bring out a sort of medieval vibe, like an ancient piece invigorated with the intricacy of a team of modern masters. The certain hone to this blade gives off a sense of subtle self-respect that isn't too hard to chew, because I resoundingly revere such wonderful music.

Romantic Warrior combines the chill swing of your downtown parlour jazz with the richness of an orchestra. I highly suggest you check it out.

Report this review (#1595099)
Posted Friday, August 5, 2016 | Review Permalink
Magnum Vaeltaja
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars When you have some of the biggest names in 70's fusion on your team, how can you lose? When it comes to jazz fusion, there are few superstar lineups more formidable than Latin shredder Al Di Meola, electric jazz pioneer Chick Corea, and the powerhouse rhythm section of Stanley Clarke and Lenny White. Although the talent on display here is a smorgasbord for jazz cats to ogle over, there's certainly more to "Romantic Warrior" than just its name-dropping creds.

What we have here is one of the finest marriages of jazz fusion and progressive rock that's been set to record. While the medieval influences alluded to by other reviewers may be a tad overstated, there's no denying that there's a symphonic flair to this record that you won't find on any of the dime-a-dozen instrumental fusion albums that got popped out like rabbits between 1975 and 1980. "Romantic Warrior" is something of a mixed bag. Pure (and expertly done) fusion numbers like "The Sorceress" and the acoustic title track act as expansive vehicles for passionate and inspired soloing. More rock-oriented tracks like "Majestic Dance" pack in a punch that you just don't find in most jazz, and the complex and spacey "The Magician" is in a league all its own in the Return To Forever canon. In all, there's a great diversity to this record that should appease fans of Miles Davis and Gentle Giant alike.

Of course, what really sells this album for me is the excitement that it conveys. As cliche as the term is in jazz reviews, this whole album is electric, through and through. From the frantic rhythmic workouts of the opening track, you know that the next 45 minutes are going to be a complete thrill ride. The album subdues (but never tires) a little with "The Sorceress" and "The Romantic Warrior", but from there it builds up into a non-stop crescendo of intensity that doesn't back down until the crashing finale of "Duel of the Jester and The Tyrant". If there was any one fusion record that deserved to be considered a "masterpiece of progressive rock music", this would be the one. This is fusion for prog fans, and prog for fusion fans, and an album that excels at both. One of the true jazz rock masterpieces that every fan of 70's fusion needs to check out. 5 stars.

Report this review (#1694410)
Posted Sunday, February 19, 2017 | Review Permalink

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