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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
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: The Essential

Disc 1

1. Return To Forever

2. Medieval Overture

3. Sorceress (Instrumental)

4. The Romantic Warrior

5. Majestic Dance

6. The Magician

7. Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant (Pt. 1 & Pt. 2)

8. Musicmagic

9. The Endless Night

Disc 2

1. The Musician (Live)

2. So Long Mickey Mouse (Live)

3. Serenade (Live)

4. The Moorish Warrior And Spanish Princess (Live)

5. Spanish Fantasy (Live)

6. On Green Dolphin Street (Live)


Track List: The Mothership Returns (Live In Austin, TX/2011)

Disc 1

1. Medieval Overture (Live)

3. Senor Mouse (Live)

5. The Shadow Of Low/Sorceress (Live)

7. Renaissance (Live)

Disc 2

1. After The Cosmic Rain (Live)

2. The Romantic Warrior (Live)

3. Spain (Live)

4. School Days (Live)

5. Beyond The Seventh Galaxy (Live)


Track List: Returns

Disc 1

1. Opening Prayer (Live 2008)

2. Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy (Live 2008)

3. Vulcan Worlds (Live 2008)

4. Sorceress (Live 2008)

5. Song To The Pharaoh Kings (Live 2008)

6. Al`S Solo (Children's Song #3/Passion, Grace & Fire/Mediterranean Sundance/Cafe 1930/Spain) (Live 2008)

7. No Mystery (Live 2008)

Disc 2

1. Chick's Solo (Solar) / Friendship (Live 2008)

2. Romantic Warrior (Live 2008)

3. Stanley's Solo / El Bayo De Negro (Live 2008)

4. Lenny's Solo / Lineage (Live 2008)

5. Romantic Warrior (Continued) (Live 2008)

6. Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant (Live 2008)

7. 500 Miles High (Live 2008)

8. Bbc Lifetime Achievement Award To Rtf Asa Presented By Sir George Martin, Including A Performance Of Romantic Warrior


Track List: No Mystery

Disc 1

1. Vulcan Worlds

3. The Shadow Of Lo

5. Beyond The Seventh Galaxy

8. Song To The Pharoah Kings

Disc 2

1. Dayride

2. Jungle Waterfall

3. Flight Of The Newborn

4. Sofistifunk

5. Excerpt From The First Movement Of Heavy Metal

6. No Mystery

7. Interplay


Track List: Return To The Seventh Galaxy: The Anthology

Disc 1

1. 500 Miles High

2. Captain Marvel

5. After The Cosmic Rain (Live)

7. Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy

9. Theme To The Mothership

Disc 2

1. Vulcan Worlds

2. Beyond The Seventh Galaxy

6. Song To The Pharoah Kings

7. Dayride

8. No Mystery

9. Flight Of The Newborn


Track List: This Is Jazz #12

1. The Romantic Warrior

2. Sorceress (Instrumental)

3. Musicmagic

4. So Long Mickey Mouse (Live)

5. On Green Dolphin Street (Live)


Track List: Musicmagic

1. The Musician

2. Hello Again

3. Musicmagic

4. So Long Mickey Mouse

5. Do You Ever

6. The Endless Night


Track List: The Best Of Return To Forever

1. The Musician

2. The Romantic Warrior

3. So Long Mickey Mouse

4. Majestic Dance

5. Musicmagic

6. Hello Again

7. Sorceress


Track List: Live: The Complete Concert

Disc 1

1. Opening '77 (Live)

2. The Endless Night (Live)

3. Chick Corea: Spoken Intro Of The Musicians (Live)

4. The Musician (Live)

Disc 2

1. Stanley Clarke: Spoken Intro To Hello Again / So Long Mickey Mouse (Live)

2. Hello Again (Live)

3. So Long Mickey Mouse (Live)

4. Musicmagic (Live)

Disc 3

1. Come Rain Or Come Shine (Live)

2. Stanley Clarke: Spoken Intro To Serenade (Live)

3. Serenade (Live)

4. Chick Corea: Spoken Intro To The Moorish Warrior And Spanish Princess (Live)

5. The Moorish Warrior And Spanish Princess (Live)

6. Stanley's Introduction (Live)

7. Chick's Piano Solo (Live)

8. Spanish Fantasy (Live)

9. On Green Dolphin Street (Live)


Track List: Romantic Warrior

1. Medieval Overture

2. The Sorceress

3. Romantic Warrior

4. Majestic Dance

5. The Magician

6. Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant (Part I And Part II)


Track List: Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy

1. Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy

2. After The Cosmic Rain

3. Captain Senor Mouse

4. Theme To The Mothership

5. Space Circus (Part I , Part II)

6. The Game Maker


Track List: Light As A Feather

1. You're Everything

3. Captain Marvel

4. 500 Miles High

5. Children's Song

6. Spain


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Thank you Pandora!
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Easily!! the best live concerts I've ever seen have been performed by Chick, Stan, Lenny and Al. These four were the 'heart' of Return To Forever. I cried the day Chick decided to move on to other musical journeys. They will live on in my memory and In the memory of their music. They will 'Forever' be remembered!
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46 yrs ago and FM radio made me a fan for life.Sounds better now than ever ..... Great music back in the day
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Chick in his musicianship never ceases to amaze me...legend
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Great song great band.
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By far, one of my favorites! So complex... Love it!
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...with the intention of furthering the jazz-rock hybrid Davis had explored on albums like B**ches Brew

Are you kidding me, lol? You censored an album title? You should type Br*w also to protect children from a word associated with beer.
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The best by far!!!
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This is the music that I grew up on in the 70's......
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Don't read this. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life! Dont stop reading this is freaky! But if you read this and ignore it you will have bad luck. Put this on 15 songs in 143 minutes. When your done press the space bar and your crushes name will appear in big letters on the screen. This is so creepy because it actually works.
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R T F baby!!
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Endless talents!!! Return to Forever!!!
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The four piece with Chick, Stanley, Al, and Lenny is the greatest version and one of the best bands ever. When I first heard Romantic Warrior in high school, I kept lifting the needle to go back and hear all the amazing parts. Wore out about 10 vinyl versions of this album. All four are still putting out incredible music independentl y . Really digging Stanley and Lenny right now. Thanks for all the years o listening pleasure. Chick Corea is one of America's greatest composers!
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Romantic Warrior was my introduction to RTF and I was hooked. Great even today. Much Love...
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While building my recording studio in the late 80's, me and my friends listened to Romantic warrior and Where Have I known You Before at least a thousand times. Never got old.
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"Song To The Pharo Kin..." TOTALLY MAGNIFICENT. Something that gits my morning a good wake-up call. Just LOVE this type of music and it's lengths".
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"I've been hooked on Chick Corea, and all of his collaboratio n s . Just wish I could just hear MUSIC to the lengths that "Word to the pharo"; I think it's called, to those extents being played more often. Just a fenominaule live peace, played to such magnitude. Obsessed with music this "ALIVE".
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This was the sound that got me into fusion fell in love with al demiola Lenny white and stanley Clark they just did it for me soulful funky and incredible musician's that had great Chemistry just having a great time through in down rythms that made my soul sing
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Truly awesome indeed!!!
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Vulcan Worlds (Ode to Mr. Spock) is one I could listen to on an endless loop along with Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant Al and Chick trading bars with Stanley and Lenny just accentuates their virtuosity. So glad I was able to see them on their last tour at the Beacon Theatre in NYC. What a treat it was to see Jean-Luc Ponty on stage with them. My goodness!!
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I recommend Vertu, ft. stanley clarke, lenny white,richie kotzen, karen briggs, and rachel z. only album produced 1999
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Medieval Orchestra. That song is Amazing. Live! One hell of a thing.
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Song To The Pharose...; hope I spelled that right, is A BREATH TALKING, MASTERPIECE.
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I knew I would get blessed with a nice, long, live track of these guy's.
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Awesome, thanks!
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RTF - You either love them or you don't. What surprises me is how much more music Chick Corea (and various assemblages) have produced in the intervening years between RTF reunions. The guy is a master. As a amateur piano player, I have to marvel at Chick's ability to keep ALL those songs in his head. Check our his latest with Bela Fleck, entitled two. Awesome!
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Renaissance: A song that gits me mixed up, thinking of Pat, Jean Luc Ponty, Stanley Clarke,and Return to Forever, all together.
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The Sorceress reminds me of summer, I can't explain it.
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giorgiomaria . d p
Pure Love !
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I love your muisic thank you for that present.your music you are amazing
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I worked at Odyssey Records in Santa Cruz in 1975-77. One of the perks was having direct access to Bill Graham's Bay Area Seating Service and getting front row seats to any concert I wanted. I used my bullets to see RTF, John McLaughlin, Chick Corea and any of the Miles Davis alums every time. I ended up giving my twin boys the middle names of Miles and Davis. This music has influenced rock music in years hence and I thank these artists for their amazing skills and contribution s .
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This is tremendous music. I wish I had more friends that like the Return to Forever Sound.
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di Meola makes me wet.
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No Samurai mention, well! I never.
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I commend your commitment (NOT TO OFFEND), your describing it as B---ches brew, only my opinion, I think as a country we need more of this, lets get more control of the filth America
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philippepelu s o
Pandora: get the release date right! Romantic Warrior is 1976 (not 1975)
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From an era when many musical styles happily collided. First time I saw the original RTF was '81 at the Palladium on 14th St NYC. Give a holla.
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On the corner for Miles Davis
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Oh come on, you can't say B**ch's Brew? Really?
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no matter what the title it is one of there best
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Seen RTF several times over the years, great every time. Been a fan of Chick since 72. My favorite of his is Inner Space, recorded in the 60s before he delved into fusion. Check this one out if you can find it!
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A great bassist by the name of Johnny Cade turned me on to RTF. As Mr. Cade rests in peace I'll continue to turn people on to RTF. As a drummer myself those cats are fusion right.
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DAYRIDE, fusion funk !!!!
Check out Stanley's flow
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I would turn Sterner St out on a SATURDAY afternoon after the chores were done by playing THE SORCERESS on the family stereo :)
My neighbors would say; what the hell is that boy listening to ?
Loved it !!! RTF FOREVER !!!x
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Got to see RTF live WOW 1975 Seattle An Paramount
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AFTER THE COSMIC RAIN is classic !!!! Soooo funky :) X
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fusion all the way
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Not even close, its fusion...
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RTF, would we consider their style "Acid jazz" ?
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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
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