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Return To Forever: The Mothership Returns

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It’s telling that, in the booklet that accompanies this two-CD/single-DVD souvenir from Return to Forever’s 2011 world tour, the final page of text is a tribute from Metallica’s bassist, Robert Trujillo. Return to Forever (this fourth iteration of the group was usually called RTF IV during the tour) meant as much, if not more, to rock aficionados during its prime as to jazz adventurists, and Trujillo’s brief but genuine nod-he ends by stating that “Return to Forever was, and still is ROCKING!”-serves as a reminder that this potent combination of players defined the word fusion when something was truly being fused.

The two audio discs are, no one should be surprised to learn, a display of the consummate virtuosity and unbridled power that impressed folks like Trujillo. When Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White get together-in whatever form-a certain je ne sais quoi takes over and superior music is made. A sixth sense guides these musicians and it doesn’t matter how long it’s been since they’ve played together, the output is stimulating and inspired. This current edition, with violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and guitarist Frank Gambale (replacing original RTF guitarists Al Di Meola and Bill Connors), allows for new textures and even more of the wattage that fired up the original aggregation.

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