Chick Corea: A Crystal Fiesta

Return to ForeverReturn to Forever. ECM-1022; 1972

The premiere of Chick Corea’s Return to Forever set cross-cultural strides, with his signature Rhodes work woven into the recently imported samba style, courtesy of expat Brazilian newlyweds Airto Moreira (percussion) and Flora Purim (vocals). With four-string wunderkind Stanley Clarke and woodwindist Joe Farrell in tow, this international quintet graced their debut platter with two sonic undertakings of utmost expansion.

On their twelve-minute ‘treble’ (a title-sake piece to an eponymous album) Corea formulates a Rhodes pattern over Moreira’s indigenous brushstrokes, whereupon Farrell’s butterfly flutes and Purim’s heavenly vocalese color the landscape. They crank the heat on the second half, where Purim yelps and moans over some boiling filigree, cooked by the fluid fingers of Clarke and Corea.

The mammoth “Sometime Ago – La Fiesta” is a slow riser, with seven minutes of light twiddling serving as prelude to the seaside ambiance of “Sometime”, on which Purim, Farrell, and Corea entwine over an ever-foreboding bassline. Clarke then wipes the floor with Farrell on “Fiesta”, where samba jubilance is swept into a modulated fever.

Bisecting those sonic castles are the album’s two pearls: the lilting Purim showcase “What Game Shall We Play Today” and the Farrell/Corea sedative “Crystal Silence”; the former alight in sensual contours, and the latter adrift in rhythmless, Rhodes/sax moonlight.

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