Saturday, January 7, 2017

Return To Forever - 1978 [1995] "The Complete Concert" Live at the Palladium, N.Y.C

Live is the final album by fusion band Return to Forever. It was recorded live at the Palladium in New York City on May 20 and 21 1977 as part of the Musicmagic tour to support the album of the same name. This was the only tour to feature the Musicmagic (1977) lineup, which included original members Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Joe Farrell, along with newly added member, Chick Corea's wife, Gayle Moran on vocals, piano and organ, and a six-piece horn section.
Originally released as a single LP, the album was re-issued in 1978 as a 4-LP set called Return to Forever Live: The Complete Concert, which contained the full concert as heard by those who attended, including extended sections of dialogue and audience applause.

The original release was a single LP with a cover featuring Picasso's Three Musicians. A greatly expanded version of the album was released in 1978 on 4 LPs as Return to Forever Live: The Complete Concert,, showcasing the entire two-hour-and-forty-minute concert. This Complete Concert release features a plain dark blue cover with a stylized "RTF" logo and contains the entireties of pieces that had been edited down for the original one LP release, including a version of "Spanish Fantasy"; the intro to which was previously released in edited form as "Chick's Piano". Also included are spoken introductions to songs by Clarke, including one in which he is heckled by the audience for announcing the concert's final piece.
Different versions of The Complete Concert have been re-issued on CD - in both 2 CD and 3-CD sets. A Japanese 3 CD version, released in 1993, contains the complete recording exactly as found on the original 4 LP version, retaining "The Endless Night" and "Musicmagic" as two separate parts each. Corea's introduction of the musicians is appended to the end of "The Endless Night (part 2)". The first US (2) CD version was released by Columbia Legacy (C2K 47479) in 1992 with the stylized RTF logo on a red background titled simply, Return to Forever Live, and was subsequently reissued with a blue cover in 2000 (468923 2) titled, Return to Forever Live: The Complete Concert. Both of these US CD releases contain the edited versions of "The Musician" and "So Long Mickey Mouse" that were on the original single LP, while removing both the four-minute introduction of the musicians by Corea after "The Endless Night" and several extended passages of audience noise. "Chick's Piano Solo" and "Spanish Fantasy" are combined into one track, as are the two parts of "The Endless Night" and "Musicmagic". Track times differ between the 1992 and 2000 reissues, due to track intros appearing appended either before the song itself, or after the previous song; below, the 1992 times are used. Both versions have been digitally remastered directly from the original master tapes to restore the low frequencies which were rolled off on the vinyl version to minimise tracking problems.
In June, 2011, Columbia (Sony) released a 5-CD boxed set, Return to Forever, The Complete Columbia Albums Collection which includes the entire 1977 Live, The Complete Concert recording on 3 CDs together with 1976's Romantic Warrior and 1977's Musicmagic. The 3-CD version Return to Forever Live: The Complete Concert, 3-Record Set was released in Japan in September 2011 as a Blue-Spec CD limited boxset reproducing the original Japanese 1978 LP boxset. However, this 2011 reissue features "The Endless Night" and "Musicmagic" as one track each, instead of the original splits and fades of each song.

Return to Forever Live – The Complete Concert (1978): This is effectively the final Return to Forever album released and, perhaps, one of its most significant. It was recorded live at the Palladium in New York City on May 20 and 21, 1977, as part of the Musicmagic tour, which led the group to meet President Jimmy Carter the following month.

Needless to say, there is a plethora of fantastic playing to be heard here that RTF’s studio albums probably prohibited, with inventive interjections from almost all concerned, waxing eloquently over some very long passages that are sufficiently more worthwhile than their studio counterparts.

How can one review perfect music? what is perfect music? I guess it is a very personal thing... for me it is not just chops or clever arrangements, it is music that speaks to the heart, that has the ability to uplift and touch the listener. I get that feeling from Return To Forever Live, it captures that vibe perfectly, even better than the studio record. If I had to compare it with another album, I'd pick Santana's Lotus, another album with that inspirational, devotional quality. This music comes at the height of Chick Corea's creative powers (many musicians experienced that creative peak between 1970 and 1977) and is seasoned with soulful vocals from Gayle Morris and Stanley Clarke, a richly colorful brass band, and a battery of keyboards that include the Moog, the Fender Rhodes, the Mellotron and the Hammond B3. The only thing missing is the guitar, but Chick's extended solos are so spectacular that they make you forget that Mr. Di Meola is no longer part of the band. No fusion fan will be disappointed with this album - particularly the prog-heads, who love 20-minute epics and lengthy solos, will eat it up. However there are some moments that are closer to "straight jazz" - a couple of jazz standards, and a long "unplugged" piece, Serenade. Overall, though the album definitely leans towards the progressive side of things, and somehow it feels like a goodbye song to an entire era. Maybe foreseeing things to come, Chick decided to give it all he had, perhaps more, and we can consider ourselves fortunate to have a beatiful document of that spirit.

My favorite jazz act of all time -- so glad to finally obtain a complete (enough) version of this live set. Having seen&heard them live in concert during their MUSICMAGIC tour, and Chick live in other concerts, I am always returning to their music. Fast, slow, soft, hard -- doesn't matter. This set dazzles no less than any previous experience, only you get more. Their jamming is first rate. 40.0 megatons of the most liberating and exhilarate music ever created! When I put this on to hear, I often replay it for days!

This and the now very hard to find to find (on CD) "Chick, Donald, Walter and Woodrow" represent Chick Corea's best writing for Big Band. You'll find that Chick cannibalized himself somewhat for the Woody Herman recording, but it actually is a tighter representation of a great series of ideas and should not be seen as "derivative". I never thought the "Romantic Worry-wart" record was their best effort. The sonics of "Warrior" are extremely problematic. The engineering on this record is much more balanced. The Horn Section is absolutely stellar. Musicmagic should be looked to for a new appreciation as it represented a lot of the music being presented here. Seek it out, I'd much sooner see this being given the Mo-Fi treatment than a whole lot of the 90's pop stuff they've focused on in the last year or so.

I would say this was the best live recording set up by chick corea ever.Very difference from the others RTF's materials but far better in most way (i would say). Most of the songs from Musicmagic are featured here with fantastic extended solos and intros(could get enough). These are the tunes that first turned me on to the music of c corea ever since. I owned the original 4LPs set and also bought the cd-set with the red cover. In the RTF red cover cds, certain portion found on the LPs were omitted from the cd including the part when chick introduces the musicians- which was really disappointing, as the response and reaction between the audiences and the band created an upheld feeling as tho you were there at the show. Also the extended intro to 'so long mickey mouse' too was cut. However, it was still very good consider some of the materials needed to be removed to allow the 4 LPs to fit into the 2cds set. I hope this new release with today's tech.would contain the complete recordings. If 'quality' and 'timeless' tunes are what you looking for, go get it. Been listening to them for over 25 years, still sound great and fresh today. ..A t the same time, I was longing for Chick to try some of these songs in the Elektric band format, that would be mind blowing esp. for tune like 'endless night'.

Track listing:

CD 1
1     Opening '77     7:09
2     The Endless Night     20:30
3     Chick Corea: Spoken Intro Of The Musicians     3:43
4     The Musician     14:04

CD 2
1     Stanley Clarke: Spoken Intro To Hello Again / So Long Mickey Mouse     1:38
2     Hello Again     6:02
3     So Long Mickey Mouse     10:51
4     Musicmagic     27:57

CD 3
1     Come Rain Or Come Shine / Fire And Dandy     3:55
2     Stanley Clarke: Spoken Intro To Serenade     0:58
3     Serenade     13:56
4     Chick Corea: Spoken Intro To The Moorish Warrior And Spanish Princess     1:05
5     The Moorish Warrior And Spanish Princess     18:16
6     Stanley Clarke: Spoken Intro To Chick Corea's Piano Solo     2:01
7     Chick's Piano Solo     14:39
8     Spanish Fantasy     11:21
9     On Green Dolphin Street     9:30


    Gayle Moran – vocals, piano, organ
    Joe Farrell – tenor and soprano saxophone, flute
    James Tinsley – trumpet, piccolo
    John Thomas – trumpet, flugelhorn
    Harold Garret – trombone
    Jim Pugh – trombone
    Ron Moss – trombone
    Chick Corea – keyboards, vocals
    Stanley Clarke – electric bass, acoustic bass, vocals
    Gerry Brown – drums



  2. Thanks Crimhead for this one.
    Very good blog.
    Jan (Netherlands)

  3. thx for the music!
    Greetz from Germany :)

  4. thanks for returning to return to forever

  5. Thanks for all the effort you put in to this!!

  6. Could You upload Wes Montgomery - "Boss Guitar" ?

  7. I recently purchased the 1995 release (Japanese import). Here are the scans from that:

  8. Thanks for this great music.