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Return To Forever

Jazz keyboard player Chick Corea's Return to Forever emerged as one of the key jazz-rock fusion bands of the 1970s. Like Weather Report and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, they were formed by an alumnus of Miles Davis' late-'60s bands with the intention of furthering the jazz-rock hybrid Davis had explored on albums like B**ches Brew. At the time, this was seen as a means of creativity, a new direction for jazz, and as a way of attracting the kinds of large audiences enjoyed by rock musicians. Return to Forever started out as more of a Latin-tinged jazz ensemble, but Corea, influenced by the Mahavishnu Orchestra of John McLaughlin and some of the progressive rock bands coming out of Great Britain, notably Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, moved the group more toward rock, achieving considerable commercial success. A later re-orientation of the band gave it more of a big-band style before Corea folded the unit, retaining the Return to Forever name for occasional tours and other projects.

Corea formed Return to Forever in the fall of 1971 while he was working in Stan Getz's band, and the two groups shared some members. In addition to Corea on keyboards, the initial lineup featured Stanley Clarke on bass, Joe Farrell on reeds, and the Brazilian husband-and-wife team of percussionist Airto Moreira and singer Flora Purim. "Return to Forever" was the name of the first tune Corea wrote for the outfit, and he then adapted it as the group's name. The band made its debut at the Village Vanguard nightclub in New York City in November 1971. In February 1972, they recorded their first self-titled album, though it was not released on ECM in Europe until the following year and did not appear in the U.S. until 1975. Corea, Clarke, and Moreira, all of whom had been playing with Getz, left his band to concentrate on Return to Forever.

The band toured Japan and recorded a second album, Light as a Feather, in London, using some of the songs Corea had written and recorded with Getz, such as "500 Miles High" and "Spain." It was released on Polydor Records. Up to this point, Return to Forever were more notable for their Latin sound than for fusion, but when Farrell left in the spring of 1973, Corea replaced him with a rock guitarist, Bill Connors from Spiral Staircase. Moreira and Purim also left to form their own group, and Corea brought in drummer Steve Gadd and percussionist Mingo Lewis, unveiling the new lineup at the New York City nightclub the Bitter End in April. They then cut a new album, but when it became apparent that Gadd, a successful session musician, wasn't interested in touring, Corea replaced him with Lenny White of the rock band Azteca, who changed the sound sufficiently that the band went back into the studio in August 1973 and recut the album, which was released in October under the title Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy. Here, Return to Forever turned decisively toward progressive rock and fusion, with Corea employing an extensive set of synthesizers. The result was crossover commercial success; the album spent several months in the pop charts.

In 1974, Connors left the group and was replaced initially by Earl Klugh, though only for a tour. The permanent replacement was 19-year-old Al di Meola, who left the Berklee School of Music to join the band. That summer, Return to Forever recorded their fourth album, Where Have I Known You Before, which was released in September. Backed by an extensive tour that ran through December and closed at Carnegie Hall, the album reached the pop Top 40 and remained in the charts more than five months. The band went back into the studio in January 1975 and quickly cut its fifth album, No Mystery, which was released in February. It too made the Top 40, though it charted for only three months. It also won the 1975 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Performance by a Group. Corea signed Return to Forever to Columbia Records, while remaining at Polydor as a solo artist. Romantic Warrior, a concept album on medieval themes, was the first Return to Forever album not to be co-billed to Corea on the original LP. Released in March 1976, it became the band's third consecutive Top 40 hit and went on to become its biggest seller, eventually earning a gold record. But with its completion, Corea again changed stylistic direction and disbanded the lineup.

Retaining Clarke as always, Corea immediately re-formed Return to Forever, adding his wife, Gayle Moran, formerly of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, on vocals and keyboards, returning member Joe Farrell, and drummer Gerry Brown, along with a horn section consisting of trumpeters John Thomas and James Tinsley, and trombonists Jim Pugh and Harold Garrett. With this personnel, Return to Forever recorded their seventh album, Musicmagic, which was released in March 1977. It became the band's fourth consecutive Top 40 album, spending more than four months in the charts. A third trombonist, Ron Moss, was added for the tour.

On May 20-21, 1977, Return to Forever recorded a live album at the Palladium Theater in New York City, but Corea disbanded the group after the tour. Live was released in February 1979, when it spent a month in the charts. (This was the single LP version; the show was also released as a triple LP, Live: The Complete Concert, which was later reissued as a double CD, Live.) In 1983, Corea reassembled Clarke, di Meola, and White for a tour. And after 25 years, Return to Forever reunited again for a tour of North America and Europe that began in Austin, TX, on May 29, 2008. Corea, Clarke, di Meola, and White scheduled approximately 50 dates through August 7 of that year.

Return to Forever have ultimately come to be viewed as a chapter in the career of Chick Corea, who was sometimes given sole credit on CD reissues of their albums. In its time, the group rose and fell according to the popular and critical response to jazz fusion in general, gaining accolades and healthy sales early on, but suffering from the backlash that all progressive jazz endured after the 1970s, when musical trends turned conservative and the remnants of jazz-rock mutated into smooth contemporary jazz. Also, Return to Forever have fallen between stools in terms of music criticism, with hidebound jazz critics dismissing them as too much like rock music, while rock critics think of them as a jazz group. As such, there is a tendency to undervalue the band's real musical accomplishments, which, however, remain available to be heard on the records. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography


fusion all the way
Not even close, its fusion...
RTF, would we consider their style "Acid jazz" ?
lockridge.mi c h a e l
loved yas since the winter of 1974 or for the last 40 years you can never be too rich, too thin, or have too much chick corea
One word... BROACHY
Jazz fusion @ its best
Saw the song with Mayer too. Good stuff
Saw Chick the other nite with John Mayer. HE STILL ROCKS !!!'x
LUV Return to Forever. Absolutely DETEST CRITICS!!! ¡ QUE VIVA LA MUSICA! :-)
RTF. 1983 at the palladium in NY and 2008 at the united palace in NY. Nights I will never forget.
Does Chick ever cease to amaze..the man is a walking music machine.
Classic album, classic song !!! One of the best bands ever x
I was playing bass in a jazz band in High school when I first heard Stanley Clarke on no mystery. It blew me away.
IMHO, this track still stands on its own in 2013. These so-called acid jazz acts today are poor imitations of the more creative works put out 70s - early 90s. So all these young cats just want to redo what their uncles were listening to. Thank God for allowing me to be able to appreciate Chick Corea and blessing us with Fusion Jazz.
"The Sorcerers reminds reminds me of summer days.
@senna. I was there. I believe Stevie wonder came out at the concert I attended.
This music helped me see the world in technicolor !!! :) x
Grown folk music !!! Nothing better
These guys defined the genre, still my favorite genre almost 40 years later. Take about half of Where Have I Known you Before and Half of No Mystery and you'd have one of the best albums of all time, IMHO.
Romantic Warrior is one of my favorite, it has sounds of LIFE
great stuff
man this is just good, good stuff. such musicianship and technical virtuosity but so cool to listen to!
franklouisro b i n
this is so cool i had this album when i first started to listen to Stanley Clarke. I love this whole album.
Man! This cat is a cool, dazzeling, disjointed, non-sequitor , high randomnity sonic adventure throught the looking glass! DMB
just a fantastic band!!!!!
philippepelu s o
Lenny White did not play with Mahavishnu Orchestra.
When did Lenny White play in Mahavishnu?
By far my favorite RTF album is Music Magic but I will gladly listen to any of them :)
@jordann - I don't know if you can do that; I know you can add groups/music i a n s but not songs or abums
jordannbjord a n
How do I add a song/album to an existing station that I already created,
CHESHIRECATB A N . LENNY WHITE, Billy Cobham played with the Mahavishnu Orchestra
Does anyone out there remember a RTF concert at the music center in LA circa 1977? I think it was a benefit. First set was Chick, Stanley,Airt o , F l o r a & J o e Farrell (RTF& LIGHT AS A FEATHER). Next up was Chick, Stanley,Al & Lenny( ended with NO MYSTERY). Then the RTF BIG BAND (ROMANTIC WARRIOR). Everybody came out for the encore. THEY BLEW THE PLACE AWAY...Thank you Dr. Farmer...IF YOU WERE THERE PLEASE COMMENT
One of my favorite bands, and still going strong today.
Great Fusion Jazz. The best sounds of my youth.
http://retur n 2 f o r e v e r . c o m / m o t h e r s h i p - r e t u r n s /
Return to Forever unveils new 3-disc CD/DVD set, The Mothership Returns: two audio CDs filled with over 100 minutes of carefully-se l e c t e d live music, culled from over 200 performances of RTF’s 2011 planetary tour.

Plus, a bonus DVD feat. 2 hours of unique footage, including 2 full length live song performances and a brand new documentary — Return to Forever: Inside the Music....
this music was part of my formative years and is a part of me.
I remember hearing this stuff on college radio in Atlanta around 1978 - maybe earlier - it was always cool to hear this stuff come over the airwaves - no IPODS or internet at that time - just my funky little FM radio - and some good weed - late night - listening - just watched a video of RTF - FROM 2008 on youtube - awesome stuff - the boys can burn it down - I saw RTF in Atlanta around 1982 - could have been 83 -excellent show - did selections from no mystery.
cheshirecatb a n
is it Billy Cobham on Warrior? got to be- he does not get back cleanly when he plays too fast & runs out of drums....... . . i t ' s like he forgets to stop
I saw RTF in Philadephia, They were so great.
I saw Return to Forever in ALT in 2008 GREAT!!!!!! Also Lenny W hite played in Mem TN in 1978 also in concert was the late great Glover Washington Jr .
I have been groovin' on this since the mid 70's and have loved them ever since. I just had to miss the new line-up last month with Lean-Luc Ponty! I have heard that you MUST see this version.
I just got my first exposure to these guys at a show with Dweezil's Zappa Does Zappa a couple days ago. I consider myself pretty open-minded about music (aside from most top 40 pop) and have been to a lot of different shows, but this was probably the best musicianship I've ever experienced live. There were parts where I was so blown away (Chick and Dweezil's call-and-res p o n s e , Stanley Clarke's insane upright bass solos...) I found myself laughing. It always feels good to open a new door.
the average person, if they don't make an effort to look for deep tracks from artists they like, especially genres that are not typically played on radio (unless you know the public or college station to dial in at the right time or have a music geek dad) don't experience much of the music that is out there. Thank Gods your here and Thank Gods for fusion!
you know billy cobham was doing the rock jazz FUNK thing in the late sixties and released spectrum in '73 when jeff beck who i love came out with blow by blow in '75. but yea i see where your coming from. he def. was the first to bring the rock into jazz instead of vice versa. also check david grisman. he brought the folk world to jazz. good stuff glad to see people actually love this stuff.
Know what's amazed me for about 30 some-odd years? People always mention the jazz side of fusion without ever mentioning the guy that crossed over from rock-Jeff Beck. Get real people. He brought many of us from the rock world over to enjoy Miles, MVO, WR and RTF. that would have never gone there. Peace.
to Glenn et al ... Esperanza Spalding! She beat out Justin Beiber for best new artist at 2011 Grammys last night. Her stuff is incredible. Check her out.
It doesn't get any better than this!!
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