Album Reviews

Return to Forever

Musicmagic

Artist:     Return to Forever

Album:     Musicmagic

Label:     Audio Fidelity/Columbia

Release Date:     10/21/2016

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Along with bands that helped define fusion music—Mahavishnu Orchestra, Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters, Larry Coryell’s Seventh House, Weather Report in the late ’70s and ’80s—Return to Forever helped bridge the divide between rock and jazz, creating an entirely new genre in the process. Spearheaded by avant garde keyboardist Chick Corea and bassist extraordinaire Stanley Clarke, the band made a major foray into new realms, taking the initial template established by Miles Davis and then crafting a sound uniquely their own. Musicmagic, the band’s final studio album, featured Corea, Clarke, saxophone virtuoso Joe Farrell and Corea’s wife, vocalist/keyboardist Gayle Moran.

The newly configured band’s allegiance to mainstream jazz is evident in several songs — “The Musician” and “Hello Again” in particular — and Moran’s soaring vocals and a four piece brass section, the group manages to expound on their earlier experimental designs. So too, Audio Fidelity’s re-release brings out the finite details that once got buried in the original mix. Corea’s keyboards sparkle with a special sheen that takes the album to a new level of clarity and ambiance, which in turn, makes this new edition of Return to Forever a welcome return indeed.

—Lee Zimmerman

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