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Return To Forever - Light As A Feather CD (album) cover


Return To Forever


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.42 | 168 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars I have to admit I was expecting this album, which is billed as "Chick Corea's Return to Forever," to be a bit heavier than it is. Corea had appeared on two seminal Miles Davis albums, In a Silent Way (1968) and Bitches Brew (1970). While neither was really a jazz-rock LP, the latter was definitely a step in that direction. Corea then teamed up with Billy Cobham and Bitches Brew alum John McLaughlin on a Larry Coryell album (which I haven't heard). By the time Light as a Feather was recorded, Corea had also gone electric, so to speak.

But the piano-driven Light as a Feather turns out to be an urbane affair, half of which - - to my surprise - - is vocal.

Flora Purim's singing takes a little while to get used to. But the songs make sense as vocal pieces. A good example is the title track, an eleven-minute piece on which Purim sings at the beginning and end. Between these sections, around the five-minute mark, the saxophone enters for the first time. There was no need for sax until that point in the song. Similarly, there's no need for vocals in the middle of the "Light as a Feather," so there are none. Purim returns for the last minute and a half, after the sax has left. (Saxophonist Joe Farrell plays flute during the vocal parts and during Corea's solo.)

"Spain," they say, is one of Corea's seminal works. Purim's wordless vocals are OK, although her percussion work is of more value in my opinion. Her husband, drummer Airto Moreira, is excellent on this track, which is a nice showcase for the rhythm section, which includes Stanley Clarke on upright bass and, at times, Corea's electric piano. As is the case across the album, though, Corea is the star on "Spain," with Farrell (flute) in more of a supporting role. Just after 7:30, Clarke takes a one-minute solo, which is nice, although personally I'd rather have heard an electric bass solo. Similar in structure to "Light as a Feather," "Spain" revisits its opening themes in its last minute and a half.

Light as a Feather isn't smooth jazz or easy listening, but it's still "light" in some respects. For example, the role of the guitar in more rock-based fusion is here usually taken by a flute. Corea also favors the upper register of the electric piano, sprinkling liberal helpings of right-hand filigrees in his solos. As seems more common in jazz than in rock, the bass is a backing instrument on Light as a Feather, despite the fact that it's played by a bona fide virtuoso- - further contributing to the light feel.

Jazz piano isn't exactly my favorite kind of fusion, especially not when there's so much focus just on the pianist. But Light as a Feather is an enjoyable listen which balances Corea's chops with ensemble passages, sax/flute leads, and vocal sections.

patrickq | 3/5 |


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