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Return To Forever Returns to New Generation of Fans


The groundbreaking jazz-fusion group Return To Forever enjoyed its greatest commercial success between 1973 and 1976. These are the years critics and fans call "classic" Return To Forever, with founder Chick Corea front and center on piano and keyboards. As VOA's Doug Levine tells us, Return To Forever has returned, capturing a new generation of fans with an anthology and reunion tour.

It's just like 1973 all over again, only this time Return To Forever's "After The Cosmic Rain" is playing on a CD player rather than an 8-track tape machine - an audio tape player popular in the late-1960s and early-1970s. Today, a ticket to a Return To Forever concert is probably five times what it cost 35 years ago.

The 1970s were marked by the comings and goings of influential jazz-fusion acts, such as The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report, Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis.

For Return To Forever, change came in 1973. Vocals heard on the group's previous two albums were dropped, synthesizers added, and band members replaced. Drummer Lenny White and guitarist Bill Connors were hired to compliment Chick Corea's nimble keyboard playing and Stanley Clarke's wizardry on the bass. But, Connors tenure lasted only one album as 19-year-old guitar virtuoso Al Di Meola came onboard for Return To Forever's next release, Where Have I Known You Before.

Return To Forever and the jazz-fusion movement was at its peak in 1975. That year, the group delivered a Grammy Award-winning performance with the album No Mystery.

One more release followed before Chick Corea changed his lineup again, enlisting the services of a four-piece horn section and his wife Gayle to sing vocals. Missing on the group's final album were Lenny White and Al Di Meola.

Selections from Return To Forever's new anthology cover four different albums from the group's "classic" period. In support of the two-disc collection, Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White and Al Di Meola have reunited for a tour of Europe and the U.S., dividing their 90 minutes on stage between acoustic and electric sets.