Return to Forever

When Chick Corea moved on from his tenure with Miles Davis, like John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham, Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter, he created a new band that could pursue his vision of blending diverse musical elements, but unlike the others, he didn't dive into electric instrumentation right away. The initial Return To Forever band was primarily an acoustic unit with a fairly straightforward Latin-flavored jazz approach. The music was complex and adventurous to be sure, but it was coming from a significantly different place than Mahavishnu Orchestra or Weather Report, the other profoundly influential bands of the early jazz/rock fusion scene.

Their first two albums were piano dominated and fueled with airy Brazilian jazz-samba sensibilities. However, in August of 1973, when Return To Forever released Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy things had significantly changed and Corea was again playing his electric Fender Rhodes, often processed through a ring modulator. Bassist Stanley Clarke was just returning to electric bass as well and these two instruments would significantly change the sound and direction of the group, adding in heavier rock and funk elements and more orchestrated ensemble playing.

Corea and Clarke also brought in two new members to the group, who added infinitely to the group's sound and textures. Guitarist Bill Connors combined facets of John Coltrane with Cream-era Eric Clapton, and for a brief period, Return To Forever now had a guitarist who achieved the perfect balance between emotionally charged playing and technical virtuosity. Lenny White combined the finesse and feel of a great jazz drummer, the pummeling power of a rock drummer and the funkiness of James Brown's drummer, Clyde Stubblefield, into one person, and along with Clarke, created one of the most intriguing rhythm sections on the planet.

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