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Return To Forever - Chick Corea: Return To Forever CD (album) cover


Return To Forever

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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5 stars This album is by far one of the greatest things that has happend to music, from tip to toe, the record makes you understand the magnificent tecnique of master Corea and team, this record, set the standard for jazz-fusion players of that time, along with mahavishnu orchestra... perhaps tha ambient sounds and the long keybord solos remiond an old jazz sound more than a progressive one. In any case, the record worth listening more than hearing, this records shows the perfect evolution of fusion into prog and viceversa, a must have
Report this review (#29475)
Posted Monday, May 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Like a lot of veteran progheads I was exposed at an early age to the album "Romantic Warrior", attracted no doubt either by the cool medieval cover art or by the presence of AL DI MEOLA on electric guitar ("Elegant Gypsy" being a de rigueur addition to any decent record collection at the time). But it obviously didn't leave any lasting impression, maybe because to my immature ears the genre known as jazz-rock fusion was only a high priority when the music rocked a lot more than it jazzed.

But my interest in fusion has been rekindled ever since I began exploring the style at its source, from the pioneering efforts of MILES DAVIS to JOHN McLAUGHLIN to, most recently, a (re) discovery of Chick Corea's RETURN TO FOREVER. I was hoping to see how the aforementioned "Romantic Warrior" measured up to my now older and wiser musical appetites, but the Erie County public library system only had a CD copy of this, their first album, dating from way back to early 1972. There may not even have been a band by that name at the time: it looks more like a Chick Corea album whose title was attached to the group only afterwards.

A moot point, once I settled in between the headphones. My initial reaction was one of curiosity, then excitement, and finally a sort of stunned bewilderment: where the hell have I been all these years?

It's amost impossible not to respond to the pure organic warmth of the music: the sunny tempos and relaxed tropical rhythms, all of it the sum of a near-magical combination of talents, led by Corea on a simple electric piano (no RICK WAKEMAN keyboard overkill here). The 12-minute title track begins and ends, for example, with a modest but haunting little theme, sandwiching a pair of energetic jams propelled by Stan Clark's busy, aggressive basslines and the controlled mayhem of Airto Moriera's percussion.

The aptly titled "Crystal Silence" is, again, a showplace for the rich, lambent tones of Corea's piano, colored by Airto's percussive allsorts and with spare saxophone accompaniment, courtesy of Joe Farrell. "What Game Shall We Play Today" is an easy- on-the-ears jazz pop song highlighting the golden soprano of Flora Purim, the vocal equivalent of a clear blue sky in summer.

All of which is only a warm-up to "Sometime Ago-La Fiesta", an ambitious 23-minute tour-de-force that must have taken up an entire side of the original vinyl. Listen to the astonishing 7+ minute introduction, with Corea setting up the Spanish melody, eventually giving way to a nimble-fingered but ferocious solo by Clarke on acoustic double-bass. Clarke then locks onto a toe-tapping groove for another 7 or 8 minutes, underneath another gorgeous Flora Purim vocal performance and some nervous flute arabesques from Farrell.

There's a quiet point midway into the song when the band cools its collective energy, reminding me in moments of the more airy passages from KING CRIMSON's "Islands" LP ("Formentera Lady" and the long title track in particular). Okay, that's an unfair comparison for easy reference only: the music was clearly drawn from the same well, but Corea's compositions are more relaxed and looser, deriving from a more genuine jazz sensibility (the man played with MILES, keep in mind).

"La Fiesta" ends the album with a pulse-quickening flamenco jam (castanets included!), showcasing Farrell's virtuoso chops in a stunning free-form sax solo, over another grungy Stan Clarke double-bass workout.

It's an album of infectious optimism and light, and a godsend in digital format, without the distraction of vinyl pops and scratches to mar the more subtle interludes. The only reason I'm resisting the temptation to award it five stars is because I've only just heard it for the first time. But if it sounds this fresh after more than thirty years I don't doubt it will soon pass my own personal test of time to become a classic with full honors.

Report this review (#29477)
Posted Saturday, January 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
Carl floyd fan
5 stars This is one of the top ten greatest fusion albums of all time up there with "bitches brew", "Birds of Fire", "We'll talk about it later", "mysterious traveller" and "Rischkas Soul" by wolfgang dauner (who still needs to be added). This is precision playing with chick corea's trademark input. he played with miles davis and its easy to see why on this album with the trademark very talented, he is the heart of this album with the sax, amazing bass (the ancor if you will) and frentic (at times) flute surrounding him...the flute reminds me of a free spirited teen age hippie. and ohhh those easy going melodies! Please pick up this classic!
Report this review (#49614)
Posted Saturday, October 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This has to rank as one of the two or three greatest fusion albums ever made, easily in the same class as Bitches Brew by Miles and Birds of Fire by Mahavishnu. Whereas the former was The ultimate statement of stylistic exploration and the latter was the height of breathtaking ferocious musicianship, this first album by Chick Corea's Return to Forever is a masterpiece of melody and free spirits. Underlying the shimmering tones and colors of the electric piano and soaring flights of the soprano sax and flute is the propulsive and virtuoso bass work of Stanley Clarke giving the music drive and conterpoint to the other instruments: all of this moving along on a bed of latin rythm. All of the songs build and breath and crescendo in an continually evolving apex of beautiful improvisation. Stunning musicianship throughout.Highly reccomended.
Report this review (#57359)
Posted Monday, November 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I give this one five stars mainly because I enjoy it so much! But of course, it is essential because lots of prog heads (like me a couple of years ago) are just looking for high speed,technical stuff with time signatures like 9/16 and more of the sort. And this album shows that that's not what music's about! I mean, of course you need to have some technique and knowledge to play what this guys play. Another reason why I think this album and the next (Light as a Feather) are such essential listens is because they show the true side of Chick Corea's music. He's been always into Latin Jazz and the first two return to forever albums show that exactly. Later they entered the fast/insane jazz fusion market where bands like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report and Brand X offered their shares. So you see, before that, Return to Forever had a unique sound! No one played that Latin Jazz fusion that Chick Corea probably "invented". And last, but not least, the album totally kicks ass!!! I mean, the first track, "Return to Forever" is a masterpiece, it gives me chills everytime Airto's drums enter the scene on the first part. The second part is more like a jamming with a killer solo by chick Corea. The next two tracks are cool too, "What Game Shall We Play Today" shows the brazilian influences on the band. But the monster track: "Sometime Ago/La Fiesta" man...everyone plays amazingly beautiful in this song/jam! I've heard Stanley Clarke before, but I never thought he could play the double bass like that, it's insane!!! On the next album I don't like Flora Plurim much, but the few appearences she makes here are pretty good. Joe Farrell also plays some great sax especially on "La Fiesta". Overall you MUST check this one out so you see that jazz fusion is not just about high speed technical stuff.
Report this review (#68945)
Posted Friday, February 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars 3.9/5.0

This is a great fusion album, yet I do not believe it deserves 5 stars because it is inconsistent. The theme song "Return to Forever" is obviously the best on this one, but unfortunately (and with all my apologies to those who believe this is one of the best fusion album ever) at some point I think even this one lacks the emotion I would like to hear from a true masterpiece. Sure, it is technically advanced but I felt a bit annoyed by the experimentations in some places.

That said, on the positive side the tempo counter-tempo from percussion is absolutely fantastic and what about the bass... marvelous! The bass solo on "Return to Forever" is one of the best I listened to. Another great moment of this album is that spanish- style rhythm on " Sometime Ago/La Fiesta"; it is absolutely gourgeous. Great imagination and really there is a lot of emotion in that part.

Adding the pluses and minuses, this is a great album and an excellent addition to any collection. 3.9/5.0

Report this review (#73498)
Posted Wednesday, March 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars An Absolute Masterpiece of both Jazz AND Progressive Rock Brilliant Musicanship and Atmosphere... There is nothing, absolute nothing to complain about. Actually I doesn´t even own this album, but my father does (ECM Record HE HE). But I love to put it on the record player and just listen to it and dream. That´s a thing I like about this kind of music: 1). It has great atmosphere so you can listen to it just for relaxing, great musicanship, 2). if you really just want to enjoy listening to good music (Listeners of Progressive Music and/or Musicians hopefully know what I mean) the Musicanship doesn´t dissapoint you. 3). You can listen to it in the Backround while talking, eating etc 4). And even dance to it ;-)

(3). & 4). are unsolved miracles for me but many of the 70`s Jazz Fusion Sound Bands make me feel similiar)

Report this review (#75351)
Posted Tuesday, April 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the first of Return to forever project. thie first line-up and one of my favorites of all time jazz fusion. Fisrt i would like to say that the music played here is some kind of bossa nova Orientated, Obviously Influenced by Flora Purim and guided by the master chick corea. Another great colaboration here is the Haughty well played bass by the legend Stanley Clarke (love the sound of the acoustic bass).And finally we have the master Flute & Sax player Joe farrell he makes this album a really masterpiece he even plays the piccolo in some passages; (thougth sounds like a bird); The main track "sometime ago/La fiesta" is the best here and although last 23 minutes is really amazing; starts we a Improvisation by stanley clarke bass and round the 7 min. mark the songs turns in mood and starts the bossa nova rhythm with a great solo of farrell in the flute, then about the 15 min. mark the songs changes to some kind of "Paso doble" (double step) rhythm and the beatiful soprano sax of farrells make his entry.Amazing piece.SPECIAL MENTION also to the relaxing a beatiful soprano voice of Flora Purim. I will talk only about the main track although the otrher are really amazing too like the short but beatiful "What Game Shall We Play Today" and "Return to forever". Finally I think that this album is more jazz than prog rock but has some proggy moments like I mentioned. 5 stars, masterpiece of jazz music & 4 stars, Excellent addition to any prog music collection. So 5 & 4 make and Average of 4.5 so is a masterpiece. BAMBA.

Report this review (#75821)
Posted Saturday, April 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rhodes, do you like rhodes? Me, yes, i like rhodes so mutch that i brought one. Why m'i talking about rhodes? Because this is, with Light as a Feather, the best album you can ear with rhodes in it.

Chick Corea put a band together called Return to Forever with him, playing only rhodes through the whole album. With him you got, Stanley Clark on bass, a top 5 bass player + Lenny White on drums, a top 5 on drums + the beautiful and angelic voice of Flora Purim who plays also differents kind percussion + Joe Farrell, a very talented flute and saxophone player.

The album starts off with the instrumantal title track, Return to Forever, who is in my top 10 best song of all time !!! The begining of the song is very strange, just the rhodes with Flora who sing a wierd melody but, after 1 minute, the main theme starts off, a very energetic rhythm with Lenny White at his best. Flora sing the melody in harmony with the rhodes and the flute. Then, the flute goes in solo for maybe 2 min and after that we return to the main theme. The next part starts exactly like the begining of the song but to switch into a groove on bass with the drums and the rhodes. Now, after a couple of Flora voicing solo under the groove, we have the immense pleasure to hear a incredible rhodes solo curtesy of Mr. Corea. Then Flora sing another theme with the rhodes in armony that kind of fall down to return to the same wierd parts that open the song and it's over.

The second song welcome us with a simple rhodes melody and a sax theme, very mellow. It goes like that through all of the song.

The third one is more a real song with lyrics, verse, chorus and solo in the middle. Very mellow but groovy. I really like that song.

The fourth and last one contain the best rhodes solo i have heard in my life!!!! that song is more rooted to the espanic heritage of Corea. Around 3 min in the song you have a very good double bass solo courtesy of Stanley Clark. A very good song.

The album may noy be as good as Light as a Feather but is still a must for every rhodes lovers. 4.5 Stars.

Report this review (#79129)
Posted Tuesday, May 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album wanders in occult, sad, groovy and moody. Return To Forever's debut effort is drenched with latin and hispanic styles (and particularly brazilian and spanish rhythms). The title track starts with an eerie effect, as Stanley Clarke sets the groove, the song proceeds to adapt a more bluesy format with syncopated rhythm, whilst the spooky feel remains in Corea's synth notes and Flora Purim imitating; then comes a 4/4 part again with syncopated rhythm and groovy bass lines; the song ends with the coda, reprising the intro. Cristal Silence is a more free-tempo piece which features Corea exercising with diminished chords and Joe Farrell blowing soulful notes on Soprano Sax; Corea starts setting the main score in which the rest of the instruments will play along, and the sax sets the tempo in which Corea will follow; it's a beautiful piece and also haunting at times, when Corea hits some dissonant intervals. What Games Shall We Play Today? has Flora Purim on soprano vocals singing lyrics, and delivers quite nicely amidst a brazilian mood, probably bossa nova. Sometime Ago/La Fiesta starts with a flawless solo spot delivered by Stanley Clarke and proceeds with a very South American style, approaching a very colombian sort of "cumbia" rhythm; followed by a moody segment full of spanish charm (I think I'd heard that ditty before, it sounds traditional).

Dissapointing perhaps for the ones who seek more "rock" in their purchases (absence of guitars could easily give a clue; but not the only valid argument). I would recommend albums like "Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy" or "Romantic Warrior" to more "rock" oriented progressive fans. Enthusiasts of a more pure jazz approach to "fusion" could give this a very high rating; and since I go in both ways, I'd give it 4.5 stars, rounded to a big 5!! one of the great masterpieces of "fusion".

Report this review (#103356)
Posted Saturday, December 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This review marks my return to the archives, and my return to forever. I had previously acquired romantic warrior and found it to be very very good, so I went in search of rtf's roots. Why not start at the beginning? Well, this really is a fine bit of work! Warning though, it does lean very far into the realms of jazz, and al di meola isn't on it. This all doesn't matter though! You will hear hints of what is to come for chick corea and rtf. Track 1, the title track. This track is awesome! It starts with a very calm, yet mysterious and enigmatic intro on electric piano. This leads in to the theme, which is very spacey and strange. After this, it breaks out into a jazz jam. real solid. The female vocalist adds a real cool touch to this song as she emulates the various melodies and even adds in a blood curdling scream in the second jam passage! Awesome. It ends with the same theme from the beggining. Good song for sure! Next is track 2, an atmospheric track. This song makes me reminisce about things and think about the past. This song really is what silence would sound like if it weren't, well, silence. Good sax phrases add soul too the song as well. After the moody realms of that track comes sunshine beaming at you bright enough to blind you with joy! Some really catchy flutes and solid bass work by stanley clarke, my favorite bassist! The highlight of this track is flora purim's vocals. she sing the high notes effortlessly and perfectly fits the song. It's a very positive upbeat song, and it's quite catchy, given you don't mind the jazziness of it. Track 4, the mother load! This is the 'epic' piece that we crazy prog fans are always looking for! It's long, involves several themes, it changes tempo and it's badass! This song has a very latin flavour, which I like very much. It starts out sort of like crystal silence, but with little latin bursts of piano. Next you return to the same strange realm as track 1 with some dark bass soloing from clarke. You'll be transported to another world here. After about the first 7 and a half minutes, the song really comes in, and a few minutes of miss sunshine purim will paint the picture for what you're supposed to be imagining while you listen. The rest of the song contains some awesome latin jazz passages and some killer walking bass parts. This song really contains all of the elements from the three previous tracks. This album is full of mixed emotions, but it will leave you feeling happy in the end! This album is a little difficult to get into, but someone who appreciates true beautiful music will find their way into the land of forever! 4/5 only because it will not appeal to all prog fans, but it is an excellent album!
Report this review (#123278)
Posted Thursday, May 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars This has to be the best cover ever ! I wish the music was as good. Actually check that, the title track is that good ! No electric lead guitar on this one either.

"Return To Forever" sounds incredible 1 1/2 minutes in with Corea's liquid electric piano sounds and the beautiful percussion by Airto Moreira. Female vocal melodies follow from Flora Purim the partner of Airto. They are a Brazilian couple by the way. I have to tell you I was shocked when I first heard her vocal melodies because they sounded so much like the female vocal melodies in ESKATON and even KULTIVATOR, both Zeuhl bands. Flute comes in with an extended solo.The song almost stops and starts again with the same melody of percussion, electric piano and bass, only this time Clarke's bass playing is more prominant. This melody is truly remarkable ! Flora's back with her vocal melodies and before 9 1/2 minutes Corea's on fire ! Like I said in the intro this song is a masterpiece that I wish every prog fan could hear.

"Crystal Silence" features a piano and sax melody that is both played slowly and gently. It's ok. "What Games Shall We Play Today? " is the hardest for me to digest. It sounds like a corny seventies song due mainly to the vocals and flute. This song makes me cringe. "Sometime Ago / La Fiesta" is a side long suite that has Corea's piano all over it to begin with. Clarke reveals how skilled he is with his bass playing before Corea comes back after 5 minutes. Flute melodies come and go as we get a real groove going before 8 minutes. Vocals follow. The Brazilian influence comes to the fore 15 1/2 minutes in before we get some sax and later more great bass. This song is a ride.

3.5 stars. Although for the title track alone I urge you to seek this record out. If you can't find it under RETURN TO FOREVER than look under Chick Corea.

Report this review (#133554)
Posted Friday, August 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is definitely a solid intro for any fusion band, but it's particularly impressive for Return to Forever, given the extent to which their style (and lineup) would change over the years. Compared to Hymn from the Seventh Galaxy, this is jazz light, though upon careful listening, it's clear that this bunch is far from the easy-listening realm. Corea on simple keys (imagine that!) is featured prominently, driven by the consistenly interesting Clarke on bass. The percussion is tasteful, but is mixed quietly and at times is an afterthought (fortunately this allows you to hear almost everything Clarke is doing clearly). You'll also find a good deal of pleasant flute, as well as the (mostly) refreshing female vocals of Purim. It all adds up to a simultaneously captivating and relaxing sound.

Return to Forever. The title track does not disappoint: a determined melody pushes through the first third of the tune, dies down, and things are kicked up a notch for the second half. Here you'll find some awesome improvisation and dueling between Corea and Clarke. There is also some rather maniacal vocals from Purim at the end that I could take or leave. It's possibly a bit overlong, but that's part of the fusion process I suppose.

Crystal Silence, What Game Shall We Play Today. The former is a melancholy, low tempo piece with some pleasant, longing sax, and the latter is a rather poppy, formulaic number featuring Purim. Neither is terribly memorable.

Sometime Ago, La Fiesta. With a decent amount of patience, you'll be well-rewarded for your time with this 23 minute gem. For me, this is jazz fusion at some of its best. The first third of the song is mostly mellow and brooding, hinting briefly at later themes. Clarke finds time for some notably tasteful double bass groans. Then the tempo picks up and is maintained through the end, with great melodies and some fantastic interplay. The lively final 8 minutes are particularly good: you'll want to get up and cha-cha yourself! Just a very solid piece overall.

There is no guitar here (particularly no di Meola), and the instrumentation is fairly simple and non-bombastic. This has an intensity and delicateness that you may need to work to appreciate and find the right mood for. You won't find comparable music many other places in prog, and for that I'm quite glad to have it in my collection.

Report this review (#141402)
Posted Monday, October 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 3.5 stars really...

A US-based band led by keyboardist Chick Corea,RETURN TO FOREVER were formed in New York in 1972.Corea had been playing next to Miles Davis,before forming a avant-jazz group called ''Circle''.Their sound was quite difficult,so Corea decided to form another band with an aim of playing a more accesible form of jazz music.RETURN TO FOREVER debuted the same year of their formation with their eponymous album.As three out of five members had Latin-roots,their music was unsurprisingly deeply rooted in Latin-American tradition.The band combines succesfully the energy and jamming of jazz/fusion music (through the electric piano and the groovy bass lines) with ethnic (mostly) spanish and brazilian rhythms (great female vocals,flutes and percussion).The overall atmosphere is quite mellow for a jazz rock band,supported by the ethereal voice of Flora Purim.Check out the fantastic electric piano work of Chick Corea,that made RETURN TO FOREVER famous worldwide and support their well-performed sound by adding work in your collection!

Report this review (#145059)
Posted Tuesday, October 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars What shall we play today? Let's play the Return to Forever's game.... Classic electric jazz album. Chick Corea electric piano sounds incredible. Sometime he is taking the front but without being boring. One thing I would like to mention is the mysterious piano from the first song. I suppose that it was a really big inspiration to issue such an incredible start-up. It is very simple but the combination of the Flora Purim's voice and the electric piano is memorable Some really good moments also on the last song Sometime Ago/La Fiesta where the fusion of all the instruments can be felt especially on the last part. The second(Crystal silence) and the third songs (What shall we play today) have a somehow a light and enjoyable atmosphere somehow different than the other two. This without a doubt one of the best fusion releases from the '70.

Report this review (#151215)
Posted Friday, November 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Five stars++ without a doubt!

How can a jazz ensemble can offer a so wonderful trip to somewhere else? Chick Corea had always been IMHO "The" reference for Piano/Keyboard along with Herbie Hancock. I knew several of his works in classical jazz, and when I heard he had also recorded great fusion albums I told myself "good time in prospect!". On the web, I discovered that I already had a vinyl record of them, half forgotten in a corner of my parents' house. When I finally recovered it, the cover art reminded me I had listen to it when I was young. But I wander from the point of this review.

After only a couple of listenings I get flooded by the strenght of this superb music. They succeed in their attempt to produce psychedelic jazz rock, in the mood of the early 70's acid inspired music. No incantations, no real krautrock likeness but a weird ambience, oscillating between cheerfulness and disturbing moments, as an acid trip does (I'm not avowing I have tried out). I won't range over the artistic skill of these musicians, but one thing is sure : they didn't join all together by any chance, they really had a precise idea on what they wanted to play. And final result is one of the best jazz rock album ever (I do ponder my words!).

It's a unique trip that leads you to other lands, a cheap and very accessible travel to unknown. I recommend it strongly to everyone needing a little break, or just looking for astonishing music.

Report this review (#153983)
Posted Monday, December 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Chick Corea, jazz pianist extraordinaire, formed Return to Forever as a foray into jazz rock fusion, much in the vein of earlier work by jazz trumpeter Miles Davis' Bitches Brew, a project on which Corea participated. With the addition of jazz/fusion bassist Stanley Clarke and Brazilian vocalist Flora Purim (both of whom themselves had highly successful careers), the result on this record is a highly accessible and listenable jazz rock fusion record. The overall stylings and sound are more consistent with a jazz medium. Virtuosic play by Corea and Clarke are highlights of the album. For progheads not put off by jazz, this recording represents a truly excellent and representative work of the best of jazz fusion in the early 1970s. Corea was a major force in this medium along with Joe Zawinul of Weather Report and John McLaughlin. Corea remains active and his jazz output remains highly acclaimed to this day. This is an outstanding but not essential record, but as to whether it can be viewed as such by folks whose tastes don't include jazz is quite debatable. For this reviewer, this is a four star recording.
Report this review (#154662)
Posted Friday, December 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I received this album from a good friend of mine for my eighteenth birthday (about a month ago) and have listened to it enough so I don't think my opinion will change much in the near future. I actually really did like this album, especially since I've been getting into the Chick Corea Elektric Band lately (whom I get to see in concert in a few days) among other fusion artists. It really was a great debut album for Return to Forever. It seems that Corea's main goal in this album was to prove to the world he could produce incredible music without playing along side Miles Davis in Bitches Brew, hence it appears on the album that the "artist" is "Chick Corea" as that's how jazz artists produce albums. The band's later albums evolved to the band's name as the "artist" which in a sense that could be symbolic for the progression of the band as more jazz oriented to become more prog rock oriented. The music in this is quite reminiscent of Bitches Brew, which isn't even progressive, it's just... somewhat free form jazz fusion in a sense, or at least to my sketchy understanding of the genre. While I do enjoy listening to this album I don't see how it has much to do with progressive rock, even in a fusion sense, or at least compared to Return to Forever's later albums such as Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy or Romantic Warrior. While this is indeed a great album, I feel that it is by no means essential to any progressive music collector nor an accurate representation of progressive fusion sub-genre. I would however strongly recommend this album mainly for lovers of fusion music abroad, especially fans of Chick Corea.
Report this review (#155843)
Posted Tuesday, December 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It has been a long time coming but I can thankfully say after listening to RTF's debut album I can say it was well worth the wait. Chick Corea in many respects bridged the gap between chaotic jazz and melodic prog jazz with his fusion input. I often listen to Bitches Brew and other Miles Davis albums and as much as I enjoy them there is this mad edge to the sound. When CC decided to go another route with RTF he established a rich vein of sound more in a melodic jazz fusion envrionment. People like Jean Luc Ponty, Weather Report and even Daryl Stuermer benefitted immensley by these influences. Even John Mclaughlin!! The title track on this album is by far the most rewarding but overall the sound is richly textured and even the progressive offbeat elements sometimes construed as 'weird' hold true witha firm message that CC was one of the finest prog jazz fusion artists outthere. A fine album, much admired and an even finer cover. Four solid stars.
Report this review (#157222)
Posted Sunday, December 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I knew this album very lately after my journey with other excellent albums like "Romantic Warrior" and "Music Magic". Well, I kew the band from the song "The Endless Night" which was part from "Music Magic" album and after that I chased any single release of Return to Forever. Unfortunately I only could get the CD of this debut album only couple of months ago. It's worth searching, really.

Return to Forever is for me the best jazz rock fusion band with great components of Chic Corea inventive keyboard and piano work which is very unique and identifiable. The debut album has not included the great guitar player Al Di Meola but the music is really packed with creative notes and chords.

The opening track "Return to Forever" has excellent melody which moves the music in natural flow with great combination of Chick Corea's keyboard and Stanley Clarke bass guitar. The vocal of Flora Purim is also excellent. Crystal Silence is a showcase on how creative Corea is in playing his inventive notes and chords through his piano, combined with Airto's percussive, plus saxophone work by Joe Farrell. What Game Shall We Play Today is an easy listening music featuring a nice vocal line by Flora Purim.

I consider this debut album by Chick Corea is an excellent addition to any prog rock collection. It will serve well for those of you who love jazz influenced compositions. There is no wonder that the next album by Return to Forever is also excellent. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#157231)
Posted Monday, December 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

After leaving Miles Davis's group (he participated to Miles's most important electric group being one of two keyboardists along with Weather Report's Joe Zawinul), Chick Corea formed his own band called Return To Forever. Much like WR, RTF's early albums contains few electric instruments and featured no guitarists (acoustic or electric), and their music was an excellent fusion of jazz and rock that was derived from Davis' Miles In The Sky to Jack Johnson era. Corea recruited the superb sax-flutist Joe Farrell, the awesome Airto Moreira on drums and brought in young bassist extraordinaire Stanley Clarke. Rounding up the quintet was the then-very-in-vogue Fiona Purim (heard on Santana, McLaughlin and many other's albums), but here she's more than guest, she's a full-blown member of RTF (as well as Airto's Wife), which might cause a few cringes among those not being fans of her (my case), but rest assured that her RTF contributions are the best she made in her career.

The jazz crowds were always difficult to satisfy and once their ire for Miles' electric treason, part f the opinion turned onto Chick's desire to found his own group that would be primarily acoustic and thought to be traditional jazz given the presence of the Brazilian couple of Moreira-Purim. If indeed the mood is acoustic, and there are the obvious bossa nova beats in RTF's debut album, the least we can say is that the album two long tracks out of a total of four and representing ¾ of the album's total time) are deeply adventurous and not commercial at all, even if the sheer beauty of these two adventures makes the music very accessible. Of course, it didn't help that Chick chose to sign with the erman ECM label, seen as a sign of treason by many US patriots. Graced with a superb aerial photo of an albatross over a clam sea, it fit the music perfectly too.

Slowly rising from the dawn, the 12-mins eponymous track is a stunning statement on which one of the best JR/F group can easily rest its foundations. The track builds slowly on Chick's Rhodes, Flora's aerial scat vocalizing and Farrell's delightful flute, while Clarke's steady bass and Airto's splendid drumming provide an hypnotic background. The middle section is a bit less smooth, as the tracks stops then pick up a tad funkier (Stanley gets a real spotlight for a few minutes), more frantic mood with Flora screeching wildly (think of a female Careful With That Axe , Eugenia), while the climax reaches almost dissonance through Farrell's flute. The track then resumes a bit as it had started. The aptly-titled 7- mins Crystal Silence (Corea-penned like the rest of the album) is an escapade for Chick's crystal-clear Rhodes playing, while Farrell adds some soppy/cheesy sax. Closing the A-side is the almost straight bossa jazz What Game, where Flora sprawls her singing over a boring lounge jazz music. Both shorter tracks are best forgotten, IMHO.

The flipside belongs to the awesome 23-mins+ Sometime Ago, where RTF makes another splendid statement of intention. Rarely has a jazz track taken such a long time to rise , but then again Sometime Ago is a torrid sun-soaked Spanish-drenched piece, where Clarke takes the lead stand-up bass role over Chick's rhythmic Rhodes, and the mood hits Flamenco. (We'll hear more of these Spanish influence throughout RTF's career, notably on the Spain track on the following album, but Connors and DiMeola are both Spanish-prone in their playing.) As soon as you think Clarke reinstate the group, he pulls out a bow and gives more drama with his contrabass. Then Flora and Farrell get into the dance and the track gains even more intensity. Castanetta, flamenco bass lines, alto sax lead lines fill up the space, even if at times the music lacks a little je-ne-sai-quoi (a guitar actually) to give it that little extra oomph to go over the top and forget the trad jazz twist remaining here and there. Nothing to be .

RTF's debut album is a stunning start to one of the most prestigious JR/F groups ever, even if this first phase is often wrongly disregarded by some closed-minded electric fusion freaks. Definitely worth a few spins as is the second album LAAF, to understand RTF's roots, I can only urge most fusionheads to rethink their opinions about these two albums. .

Report this review (#169909)
Posted Monday, May 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the album that got me hooked on this band. The only Miles Davis spin-off fusion band I had gotten into before I listened to this was Mahavishnu Orchestra, which I still love. Return to Forever is a completely different kind of sound, but absolutely awesome in its own right. As a bassist, I can't get enough of the stuff Stanley Clarke does with this group. He smatters notes all over the place, but does so with such taste and precision that I don't look at him at all as a show-off like some of the speed bassists of today. The title track is absolutely awesome. If I could have only one song by this band, it would be this one. The structure and movement of the song is absolute genius; it is so trippy and funky without acutally being funk. The real reason why I didn't give this album 5 stars is because of What Game Shall We Play Today. I just don't get why Corea thought he needed to have a vocalist with him. It sounds like cheesy lounge jazz, and it's a shame that Corea can bury his amazing talent with overwhelming cheesiness. As gorgeous as Crystal Silence is, it seems obvious to me that he wrote this on a regular piano and simply recorded it with a synth; I would love to hear a version of it just on grand piano. As beautiful as the song is, it seems obvious to me that he wrote this on a regular piano and simply recorded it with a synth. The last song has some vocals, which aren't as annoying as they are on the preceding track, but they still detract from the song. The Spanish groove they get into in La Fiesta is awesome, and Clarke's bass solo in this song is unbelievable as well. After listening to 5 Return to Forever albums, this one is still my favorite, along with Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy, but the one problem that plagues this band is that it's hard to overlook some of the cheesy moments that you just have to take in stride when you listen to them. I still highly recommend listening to this album, even if it gets lost at times, for the moments of sheer genius that it contains.
Report this review (#205578)
Posted Friday, March 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars |B| A beautiful debut by Chick Corea's fusion powerhouse group, Return to Forever.

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

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

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

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

Report this review (#218092)
Posted Sunday, May 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars I wouldn't say this is one of the greatest fusion albums ever. I'm not even totally convinced that it's fusion. And, while this group did continue and record "Light As A Feather" as Return To Forever, this album appears to have been marketed as "Return To Forever" by Chick Corea. No matter. It's not a bad album. The title tune, in fact is fantastic. Corea's electric piano playing is superb, as is Clarke's bass playing.

The rest of the album, save for an amazing acoustic bass solo in "Sometime Ago - La Fiesta", the obligatory Spanish flavored tune that appears on a large number of Corea albums (maybe I should paraphrase FZ and call it "The Chick Corea Secret Chord Progression"), leaves me somewhat bored.

And the mix of the album is just odd. Chick is way over to one side, Airto's drums are off to the other, and the bass and sax seem to float around.

This is a good jazz album, but not anything special as a fusion album.

Report this review (#223976)
Posted Tuesday, June 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Debut RTF album ( formally still Chick Corea solo album) is EXCELLENT Latin jazz-fusion work. Even if RTF is better known by it's later, much more rock-oriented and guitar led works, for me this album is their absolutely best work ever.

Corea's electric piano sound based album has unbelievable atmosphere. Airto Moreira, great Latin American percussionist and his wife Brazil jazz-singer Flora Purim both bring excellent warm Latin feeling. All sound is very atmospheric (what is characteristic for ECM recordings) and very warm ( what isn't usual for the same label).Stanley Clarke bass is great addition to sound, but is never too underlined. Joe Farrell's brass sounds gave many of tasteful accents to very elegant music.

It's even difficult to say by word, why this album's music sounds so great - I believe it is one of very rare cases, when all the sound, composition, common atmosphere and performers build mystic unity, you can call it magic.

Just for composition on this album, but it is a monumental work. You can know nothing about Latin jazz or Chick Corea, but after you will hear this album, your musical world will never be the same. Just open your ears wide!

By the way, two great musicians , participated on this album, Flora Purim and Airto Moreira, have some interesting solo albums as well ( mostly in Latin jazz territory). Whenever after one more album of similar music Corea radically changed RTF line-up and musical style, you can search there some perfect music in Flora's albums ( Airto is more known as session musician, his solo works aren't so strong).

Report this review (#233386)
Posted Friday, August 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Back in the day I had a rather short but intense flirtation with fusion. Due to the more commercial direction that I heard on some late-70's albums, I quickly lost sight of my jazz vaults. The regular fusion reviews from a certain member here made me explore my early love again. So it's about time to blow off the dust of some early favourites.

RTF's first line-up mainly revolved around percussion, bass and keyboards, with a minor contribution from flutes, saxophone and vocals. With the guitar vacancy still open, this album is very different from RTF's later albums. And I believe it works in their advantage, especially on the stunning opening track.

When I first heard this I thought I had found me a new favourite band, such a rich and emotional piece of music this is. All instruments get a lot of breathing space, and the emphasis is more on creating a beautiful mood, varying between sad, dreamy and mellow. This track has some interesting wordless female jazz vocals, but it's Stanley Clarke's bass and Chick Corea's keyboards that take the spotlight. The dominance of the jazzy keyboards lends this album more atmosphere then later RTF albums.

Crystal Silence features Joe Farrell on saxophone and it makes RTF almost sound like an mellow version of Weather Report. Very classical mood jazz, it's a delightful piece but not really RTF's core-business.

If the opener had made me believe I had found me a new favourite fusion band, the folksy easy-listening jazz-pop of What Game Shall We Play Today quickly brought my feet back on the ground. Not bad probably but it will rather appeal to fans of light folksy jazz like Harmonium.

The 23 minute Sometime Ago - La Fiesta could have lifted the album to excellence, but while it has a couple of great sections, the bulk of it is rather poppy and the ending part, La Fiesta, doesn't appeal to me at all with its exotic cocktail party music.

I would almost give it 4 stars for the strong start but it's a bit of a downward slope from then on. If you like Latin fusion a lot this will probably highly appeal.

Report this review (#284710)
Posted Thursday, June 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Return to Forever ? 1972 (4/5) 12 ? Best Song: Crystal Silence

Now, my knowledge of music theory is somewhat limited (I have taken several years of band class, and did quite a bit of saxophone plodding after, and boy can I sure play a mean first ten seconds of Stairway to Heaven, but I am hardly an expert). I will say that a good 20% of loving fusion comes from a love of complexity and structure. Sheet music for these songs must be a veritable storm of ink and confusion. Don't take my judgment for the music here in any measure other than purely from entertainment, suffice me to say that obviously Chick and his buddies are real pros at whatever it is they're bashing out. The album is made up of four songs ? two long, two short. They packaged the shorter songs between the longer ones, which was smart of them. It's hard to listen to those mammoth songs without a pause between. The music is a very soft, ethereal blend of jamming. The title track (their personal song as it were) is of note in how the cool, flowing keyboard rhythms split apart echoing flute solos. The man's a wizard, even through the psychotic cave wailings that enter in halfway through. For the sake of sanity, they placed a couple of somber, thoughtful ballads, the first being my favorite on the record, 'Crystal Silence', which is highlighted by a husky, painful saxophone solo. 'What Games Shall We Play Today', though, is accentuated by the sweet vocals and sugary pop flutes. Finally, the album closes on the monster side-long epic 'Sometime Ago', which has a few excellent ideas, but it's predictably a little too long for my tastes. Even with all the flaws, this album presents the finest sides to fusion in short pop sensibility and extended jamming.

Report this review (#440494)
Posted Friday, April 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Return to Forever's first album - originally presented as a Chick Corea solo album, establishes the band's sound as something quite distinct from the Mahavishnu Orchestra or Weather Report's efforts from the same era (those two bands being close siblings to RtF, since all three groups were led by veterans of Miles Davis' groundbreaking In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew sessions). The album's sound is distinguished mainly by the husband and wife percussion team of Airto Moreira and Flora Purim - with Purim's vocals generally being light and airy, though showing a bit more range in her wordless wails accompanying the opening self-titled song.

The Latin rhythms laid down by Moreira and Purim dominate the album's sound for much of the full fusion sections, though of course Corea's electric piano textures and Stanley Clarke's capable bass work is never far away. Joe Farrell, the group's wind instrument master, gets a nice chance to take the spotlight in Crystal Silence, more of a pure jazz track than a fusion track, which is focused on a gorgeous saxophone performance from him.

On the whole, this is an album which manages to be consistently pleasant but not much more than that; there's nothing mindblowing on here, and whilst the group is technically competent and more than capable of playing some fast and furious fusion - as the La Fiesta section of the sidelong Somewhere Ago/La Fiesta suite neatly demonstrates - it feels here as though they are making preliminary sketches rather than creating any truly tight and top-flight compositions. Three stars.

Report this review (#492443)
Posted Friday, July 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars It says CHICK COREA on the cover as the artist and RETURN TO FOREVER as the album title, yet this is RETURN TO FOREVER and all sites that categorize music include it under the band name as the first album, but yet when I look up on my shelf and see it in the Rs when it starts with a C is just plain drives me craaaaazy! Enough ranting about my idiosyncrasies, onto the music!

After the hugely successful sessions with "Silent Way" and "Bitches Brew" with Miles Davis, CHICK COREA briefly formed an avant-garde jazz band called CIRCLE but because he wanted a more accessible sound that would garner slightly more popularity, he scrapped that idea and started RETURN TO FOREVER.

I have been wafering on whether to rate this a 3 or a 4 star album for some time as I came to this debut album from the perspective of having heard ROMANTIC WARRIOR first and this is absolutely nothing like it. This debut album is mostly a light ethereal subdued jazz fusion affair. It is technically proficient but the main focus is to conjure up certain emotional states that take you on a nice floaty ride instead of the intensity married with medieval images that later albums would evoke.

"Return To Forever" is the first and the masterpiece track which is the one I loved from the first listen and still do. It is so deep and mysterious and haunting and just plain good. This track alone is worth the price of admission and at over 12 minutes long a very demanding piece.

"Crystal Silence" is an ok track but doesn't live up to the magnitude of the album's first and last tracks. It is pleasant enough and doesn't subtract too much from the overall goal of the album.

"What Games Shall We Play Today?" is an upbeat little number that makes me wanna dress up like Shirley Temple and jump on a table and start twirling around with a psychedelic lollipop in my hand. Once again it is ok but certainly not the reason to buy this album.

"Sometime Ago / La Fiesta" was the one that took a while to really sink again. Maybe I just wasn't listening attentively enough? Maybe it just took umpteen listens to get. Whatever the reason I finally find this a very rewarding piece and ultimately the reason I can unequivocally give this album 4 stars after putting off rating this album for so long because of my indecisiveness. It is as the title suggests a jazzy fusiony piece that incorporates Latin percussion to the mix. At 23 minutes plus you certainly get your money's worth with this one but like I said it took me a while to appreciate but after the effort to penetrate its worthiness I have finally been rewarded by a very pleasant track and now I can associate this album on a completely different playing field than the later releases. Really now. Anything by Chic Corea is well worth having and this is hardly the exception.

Report this review (#1129123)
Posted Sunday, February 9, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars On thing I love about this album is its ability to take on a diverse range of visceral planes while still remaining cerebrally consistent. The album is full of interesting technical instrumental and vocal work yet can jump from contemplative atmosphere churning to tart poppy jazz without betraying artistic depth.

Flora Purim is a delightful vocalist who sweetens this album to no end. Airto Moreira's percussion is also definitely worth one's attention.

Ultimately what makes this album one of my favorites is its playability. Girlfriends and mothers won't hate it!! By virtue of one's ability to play it in mixed company, it grows heavy with memories and moods that other albums never have because they're meant for headphones in a bedroom. This album is good for drives, the beach, picnics, relaxed parties, anything. Go out and play it for your pop music friends.

Report this review (#1507927)
Posted Wednesday, January 6, 2016 | Review Permalink

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