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Return to Forever: Fusion Evolution

Shortly after his electrifying performance with Miles Davis at the Isle of Wight Festival in the U.K. on August 29, 1970, Chick Corea left the band to focus his creative energies on his avant-garde quartet Circle with bassist Dave Holland, drummer Barry Altschul and saxophonist Anthony Braxton. In the fall of 1972, Corea formed his first edition of Return to Forever with Brazilian drummer-percussionist Airto (Moreira) and his vocalist wife Flora Purim, saxophonist-flutist Joe Farrell and bassist Stanley Clarke. On Feb. 2 and 3, 1972, that crew recorded Return to Forever under Corea’s name for ECM Records, though that album, which introduced two Corea classics in “La Fiesta” and “Crystal Silence,” wasn’t released Stateside until 1975. Concurrent with these RTF activities, Corea and Clarke were also members of Stan Getz’s band with Tony Williams on drums. On March 3, 1972, that quartet recorded Getz’s Captain Marvel, which featured the Corea compositions “500 Miles High,” “Captain Marvel” and “La Fiesta.”

Corea and Clarke left Getz’s band during the late summer of ’72, then toured Japan with Return to Forever before traveling to London to record the Latin-flavored Light as a Feather (from Oct. 8 through Oct. 15, 1972) for Polydor Records. That landmark recording, which was released later in ’72, included what would become Corea’s most popular composition, “Spain,” along with such enduring originals as “500 Miles High,” “Captain Marvel” and “You’re Everything.” This edition of Return to Forever had a light, airy sound, underscored by Airto’s brisk drumming and featuring Purim’s alluring vocals and augmented by Farrell’s buoyant flute work and Corea’s Fender Rhodes.

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