Return to Forever
The First AlbumToward the end of 1971, Chick formed his first edition of Return to Forever with Stanley Clarke on acoustic bass, Joe Farrell on soprano sax and flute, Airto Moreira on drums and percussion and Moreira’s wife Flora Purim on vocals. On February 2 and 3, 1972, they recorded their self-titled debut for ECM, which included the popular Corea composition "La Fiesta."
Light as a Feather
Introducing "Spain" and "500 Miles High"
A month later, on March 3, 1972, Chick, Stanley, Airto and drummer Tony Williams teamed together as the rhythm section for Stan Getz's Columbia recording Captain Marvel, which featured five Corea compositions, including "500 Miles High," "La Fiesta" and the title track.
By September of that year, Chick was back in the studio with Return to Forever to record the classic Light as a Feather, a collection of melodic Brazilian-flavored jazz tunes including new versions of "500 Miles High" and "Captain Marvel" along with Chick's best-known composition, "Spain." In November of 1972, Chick also recorded the sublime Crystal Silence, his initial duet encounter with vibraphonist and kindred spirit Gary Burton.
The Electric Period
Jazz Meets RockBy early 1973, Return to Forever added electric guitarist Bill Connors and thunderous drummer Lenny White, and the group was fully fortified to embrace the emerging fusion movement. In August 1973 Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy instantly elevated them to the status of other fiery fusion bands of the day like John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra and the Joe Zawinul-Wayne Shorter-led juggernaut, Weather Report.
The Classic Quartet
Chick, Stanley, Lenny and Al
By the summer of 1974, with the 19-year-old speed demon guitarist Al Di Meola replacing Connors in the RTF lineup, the transformation to a bona fide high-energy jazz-rock concert attraction was complete. Hordes of rock fans embraced the group and were able to enter the world of jazz through such important albums as 1974's Where Have I Known You Before, 1975's Grammy® Award-winning No Mystery and 1976's Romantic Warrior, which became the best-selling of the RTF studio albums.
The four electric albums are now compiled on the remixed and remastered Return to Forever: The Anthology.
Solo Albums and the Third Edition of RTF
During this same period, Chick also turned out two highly personal recordings in 1975's jazz fantasy concept album The Leprechaun and 1976's flamenco-flavored My Spanish Heart. A third edition of RTF featured a four-piece brass section along with bassist Clarke, charter RTF member Joe Farrell, drummer Gerry Brown and Chick's future wife Gayle Moran, who was also a memeber of Mahavishnu Orchestra, on vocals.
Together they recorded 1977's Musicmagic and the four-LP boxed set RTF Live, which captured the energy and excitement of the full ensemble on tour.