Return To Forever: Live (The Complete Concert)

Chick Corea’s Return To Forever was one of the most important jazz-rock fusion bands in the 1970’s. During its history, it existed in three widely different configurations, with only keyboardist Corea and bass virtuoso Stanley Clarke as constant members. The original configuration was a Latin based group, with Brazilian musicians Airto Moreira on percussion and his wife, Flora Purim on vocals, as well as the late Joe Farrell on flute and saxophone. After two albums, this group gave way to a much louder, rock-based group with Lenny White on drums and Bill Connors on guitar. After one album, Connors left and was replaced by a 19 year old guitar prodigy, Al Di Meola, for what is considered the “classic” RTF line-up. The final line-up of the band was a larger band. Gayle Moran, (Chick Corea’s wife), was added on keyboards and vocals, Gerry Brown occupied the drum chair, Joe Farrell returned on reeds and was joined by a 5 piece brass section. Their music was a little more pop oriented. This group recorded a studio album and then went on a world tour. This album is from that tour and was recorded at New York’s Palladium in 1977. It was the final album by the band until 2008’s reunion album and tour by the classic quartet with Di Meola & White.

(Single album release)

The album itself was released in three different configurations. It was originally a single album, which featured heavily edited cuts of some of the songs, as well as the striking Picasso album art. This was quickly followed by the full concert on a 4 LP album set. When it was released on CD in 1992, the album was remastered, but a couple of tracks were taken from the edited single album version in order to fit it onto 2 CDs. (An extremely rare Japanese 3 CD version exists, which contains the complete concert, but is not remastered. The remastering on the 2 CD version restored some bass frequencies that were rolled off for the 4 LP set due to vinyl pressing considerations.)

Remastered 2 CD version

The concert featured some very lengthy progressive rock-style songs that allowed Corea, Clarke, and Farrell to really stretch out. Most of the compositions are by Corea and Clarke, with lyrics by Moran and Clarke. Two standards are included as well: Come Rain or Come Shine, (a vocal feature for Gayle Moran), and Green Dolphin Street (an acoustic encore by Chick Corea on piano and Stanley Clarke on upright bass). Stand out tracks are The Endless Night, Musicmagic, and Spanish Fantasy. (Buy it here.)

Suggested Reading:

Chick Corea. Music Poetry.