Chick Corea – Return To Forever

Credit: BootLoverPhotography

Review by Ms. Ann

1972

Tracklist

Return To Forever                              12:06

Crystal Silence                                    6:55

What Game Shall We Play Today      4:26

Sometime Ago – La Fiesta                  23:18

Credits

Chick Corea    Composed By, Electric Piano

Airto Moreira  Drums, Percussion

Stanley Clarke Electric Bass, Double Bass

Joe Farrell           Flute [Flutes], Soprano Saxophone

Flora Purim     Vocals, Percussion

Neville Potter  Lyrics By

Tony May                   Engineer

Manfred Eicher           Producer

Recorded at A&R Studios in New York, York

Return to Forever features the music of Chick Corea who in 1972 was evidently completely enamored by his Fender Rhodes electric piano. He had journeyed through Miles Davis’s turn to fusion including recording “Bitches Brew” with him and had done small ensemble avant-garde jazz which left him wanting something more accessible to a larger audience.  Chick Corea in 1972 was writing bright, energetic music incorporating exploring his roots in Latin based music, sambas, bossa nova rhythms, and flamenco sounds.

“Return to Forever” starts with a vamp on the Fender Rhodes, a haunting melody is added, then accentuated with wordless vocals.  With this introduction, we are suddenly in a Brazilin/Latin flavor tune, upbeat and in a spooky minor key.  This juxtaposition of the two elements is explored throughout the piece.  Clarke’s bass playing becomes more prominent as the tune progresses.  It is very energetic and tight as it drives the tune on. Clarke’s percussion precision bass playing keeps your toe tapping during the improvisations.  Flora’s wordless vocals are amazing and add a rich dynamic to the tune.  This piece has a has a very airy, mystic, unearthly yet warm overtone quality that draws the listener in.

My favorite piece on the album is “Crystal Silence” and I wish more jazz piano players would visit this piece because it is a gem.  My analysis is that this piece is melody driven.  It isn’t completely model and has just enough tonal V-I to make it ambiguous.  In your improvising, if you stick to an E minor pentatonic 4 bar to A minor pentatonic 4 bar, you will do just fine.  This recording features Joe Farrell blowing a dreamy, soulful Soprano Saxophone to Chick Corea’s meditative piano work, I love the Tibetan bells and shimmery percussion accents by Airto.  The only truly somber piece on the album, I love it more for its contrasting vulnerability.

“What Game Shall We Play Today” is a groovy 70’s pop song.  I love the flute solo with its trills and twisty turns.  Chick Corea takes a turn improvising and is awesome.  This tune has an organic warmth, a sunny tone, and a relaxed Bossa Nova Latin rhythm.

“Sometime Ago-La Fiesta” is a very stunning piece, ambitiously taking a little over 23 minutes to explore aspects set out with Chick Corea’s opening with the Spanish tune on piano.  Clarke gives us a fierce solo on acoustic bass before settling into a toe tapping groove under another gorgeous vocal gift from Flora Purim.  Joe Farrell’s solo on flute is accompanied by Chick Corea giving a very interactive melodic background.  I love this interaction playing.  Corea’s solo is stream of conscious playing with so many ideas flowing.  “La Fiesta” ends out this piece giving us a very jubilant turn to castanets and pulse quickening flamenco style.  Joe Farrell shines with his saxophone solo and Clark’s bass playing is exceptional.

This album presents a fully developed collection of tunes with different elements that flow together with accessible melody and emotion.  This work has artistic integrity while fusing Latin music and jazz.  It is distinctive, creative, and shows wondrous imagination.  Sometimes I just want to listen to an upbeat fun album, and this is perfect.