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Return To Forever - Romantic Warrior CD (album) cover


Return To Forever


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.28 | 681 ratings

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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.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |


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