Return To Forever IV Comes Together: A Night To Remember
in the Glorious History of Return to Forever
There’ve been a lot of memorable nights since Chick Corea organized the first installment of Return to Forever, way back in the early ‘70s. Little could he have realized, those many years ago, that he was planting the seed for a musical phenomenon that would continue to blossom over the next four decades. Blossom, that is, in a colorful range of creative hues, each a fascinating musical entity of its own.
In mid-November, at Mad Hatter Studios in a large building in the fringe Los Angeles area between Hollywood and Los Feliz, Chick returned to Mad Hatter, the studio he’d founded in the ‘90s. His goal: to plant another new seed—this time for the latest Return to Forever—RTF IV.
Chick doesn’t kid around when he does his musical gardening. And “a night to remember” barely does justice to the high-powered, rapid-paced planting, fertilizing and growing process that took place in Mad Hatter’s big airy recording studio when he and his long time RTF associates—bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White—got together, for the first time as a group, with guitarist Frank Gambale, a veteran of the Chick Corea Elektric band of the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Getting down to business quickly, Chick directed the first solo spotlight toward Gambale, who immediately made the most of it. Applying his amazing, sweep-picking technique, he poured out a virtual tsunami of notes, each one perfectly articulated, each one a carrier of dynamic creative energy. Corea, Clarke and White responded with their own in-the-pocket groove, smiling together with the spontaneous awareness of the musical symbiosis that was taking place.
And it was just the beginning. Although there was only time for two or three more numbers, what had started out as an introductory rehearsal smoothly morphed into a unique togetherness—the initial blossoming of RTF IV. With much more to come when violinist Jean-Luc Ponty joins RTF IV as they head for Gambale’s native Australia in February 2011 to begin what promises to be another tour to remember.