Sunday, January 17, 2021

Return To Forever – Romantic Warrior

How do you do waveriders?  Say, let me ask you a couple of questions.  Do you like rock ‘n’ roll?  Of course you do!  Why else would you be here?  Do you like jazz?  Ah good, I see more than a few hands up out there in the audience!  Now then, what if I told you that those are two musical flavors that taste great together?  What would someone call this crazy concoction I wonder?  ‘Fusion’ perhaps?  Yeah, that sounds hip and with it!  Fusion.  Dig it!

 

Enough years have passed since I bought my copy of Return To Forever’s Romantic Warrior that I don’t remember what made me pick it up in the first place.  I do love rock ‘n’ roll and I do love jazz, so it was natural that at some point I would investigate fusion groups…but at the time plunking down some pay on this CD was absolutely a shot in the dark.  Thankfully that spin of the wheel turned out to be a jackpot!  I listened in awe to this album and the four stellar musicians producing these magical songs.  Recently I decided to revisit Romantic Warrior and that awe I previously experienced came back in full force!

 

I mean seriously?!?  Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White, and Al Di Meola just consistently throw down the gauntlet for amazing technical playing that is always in service of the greater good of the song itself.  We’re talking virtuosic performances from every player, on every song on this album, but here’s the thing.  When I think about these songs I think about the outstanding melodies those virtuosic performances compliment.  There’s the playful synthesizer theme that runs throughout opener “Medieval Overture”.  The bassline that anchors “Sorceress” is impossible to not groove along with.  The main guitar riff from “Majestic Dance” screams into your memory banks.  And then there’s the elegant, beautiful piano melody that carries “Romantic Warrior”.  These are the things I remember most vividly.


 

Now that’s not to say that the technical passages aren’t amazing, or that the solos aren’t mind blowing.  When I typed out the words virtuosic performances I wasn’t speaking in hyperbole.  Good lord people!  This whole album is a tour de force for all four members!  Every song offers up multiple mouth agape moments.  Attempting to single out one or two standout solos, runs, or featured elements is a fool’s errand.  That said I find Lenny White’s drumming to be extraordinarily excellent from start to finish.

 

Waveriders I am thrilled I revisited Romantic Warrior from Return To Forever!  If you haven’t listened to this album in a while perhaps it’s time to go back and enjoy it once again.  On the other hand if you’ve never had the pleasure of hearing this gobsmackingly brilliant music, what are you waiting for?  Now’s the time friends!

 

-Penfold


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