Chick Corea, Al Di Meola, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White Return to Forever “full live”
The concert of “Return to Forever” has impressed with the variety of themes and layers. Avant-garde style performed by the most successful line up of the group in its history: pianist Chick Corea, guitarist Al Di Meola, bassist Stanley Clarke, and drummer Lenny White in this album, called “Romantic Warriors” also brings mature sound of traditional jazz approach in their sound. This jazz/musical classic concert sometimes drive to medieval, I would even say baroque style, as in “The Magician" by Clarke. The “Romantic Warrior” includes compositions from all of the players, making it really collective work. Each of these four musicians has his minute of fame during the concert. I would like to elaborate on two times where I really enjoyed a particular musician’s work (Rate your Music).
The first time is Corea’s solo showcase where he performed his extensive acoustic piano soloing in the “The Romantic Warrior” (starting at 20:30). It drives a funky rhythm with high meter and extreme dynamics (YouTube).
The true pleasure was to hear Lenny White's "Sorceress" which was the true groove of this concert and consequently became my favorite composition. Actually this expiring composition by Lenny almost made him my idol. It inspires me to become drummer, especially his rhythm, which is quite similar to classical “Caravan” in this composition. This iconic drummer varies his beat and meter creating creative space for his partners to step in.
Chick’s "Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant" is much more in a jazz-rock style, with Di Meola particularly rocking out on fast-paced electric guitar solos. I didn’t really like the intro of this grotesque composition. In fact, fast transitions between bass solos and keyboard lines accompanied by Crash cymbal drums sounds messy and sat too fast pace. In this concert I enjoyed melodic parts more.
Meanwhile, the rhythm section of Clarke and White is always busy, being rather funky, driving several cross rhythms disregarding the above lines. To tell the truth this effect is more noticeable in White's sole composition "Sorceress" rather in this one, but it nevertheless keeps the music some kind of fusion even when Corea is sounding more traditionally.
Funky guitar solo during the 39-41 minutes of the concert seem dirty and overwhelmed with extra harmony. To my mind this sound is really out of the jazz theme of the concert, which I liked the most. These medieval experiments really hurt my ears due to the absence of common ideas between the parts of the musicians. Sometimes, it sounds like keyboards and guitars are playing different compositions. My view may not be objective, but that is what I felt.
For me this concert can be divided into two parts: Jazz-like and Funky part. And these two are completely different ranging from classical acoustic compositions to exclusively electric solos by Meola. I liked melodic jazz themes of the concert because of the skillful solos of Corea, who was at his best.
This concert is meaningful due to the showcase of skill by two musicians: Corea and White. I really enjoyed their melodic solos and accompanying rhythms. Larry White gave me inspiration to start drumming and Coreas piano solos could easily be concerned as canons of classic jazz music. Impressionism compared to medieval themes have made depressive effect on me, because I am a melodic person and hate noises by electric guitar strings in such wild manner.
I expected this concert to be less unpredictable. But let me explain. Choice of composition from the group’s best album is vindicated. On the other hand, jazz compositions were frequently interrupted by funky motives. This approach killed all joy in me, because I couldn’t fall in love with rhythm for at least 3 minutes. Electric solos were suddenly interrupted by melodic keyboard play and vice versa (All Music).
Of course, jazz in nature has always been music without clearly defined boundaries.For example in "Sorceress", my favorite composition from this album, there are a number of music features that emerged through the use of scales, usually not used in European classical music, which occurred in West Africa, or from a combination of African gamut with European harmony. The most characteristic of this tune specificity is expressed in the so-called blues scale of another African element - rhythm. Of course, the rhythm of jazz is not a purely African, since the latter is usually much more complicated than in jazz. However, an element of constant rhythmic variations, which is vital to jazz, has no connection with European traditions, expressed in "Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant".
“Chick Corea, Al Di Meola, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White Return to Forever -full live-,” YouTube. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucaPIJy4VNE
“Return to Forever biography,” Pro Archives. Retrieved from: http://www.progarchives.com/artist.asp?id=1027
“Review by William Ruhlmann ,” All Music, Retrieved from: http://www.allmusic.com/album/romantic-warrior-mw0000188588
“Romantic Warrior album,” Rate your Music. Retrieved from: http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/return_to_forever/romantic_warrior/