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Return to Forever at Montreal Jazz Festival

Chick Corea

I attended the last Return to Forever reunion, 25 years ago. The fusion supergroup, which had disbanded in 1976 at the peak of its popularity, shortly after the release of the gold-selling concept album Romantic Warrior, had decided to get back together for a brief tour in 1983. I caught their show at the old Palladium theater in Manhattan (a huge space on 14th Street later purchased by New York University and converted into a dormitory), but at that point not enough time had elapsed to truly make it a nostalgic event.

Now, so much time has gone by, a quarter of a century, in fact, that I was practically wallowing in nostalgia at this current RTF reunion. Hearing Chick Corea and the boys running through letter-perfect renditions of “Vulcan Worlds,” “Song to the Pharoah Kings” and “Sorceress” had me drifting back to my youthful days in Milwaukee during the mid-’70s, recalling drives along Lake Michigan in my first car with the sun roof rolled open, smoking my first joint and grooving heavily on this pulse-quickening brew of intense sci-fi rock-jazz that was some kind of fresh amalgam of Yes’ Fragile, Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s Tarkus and Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew.

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