Return to Forever returns to Cleveland, thrills audiences with virtuosic jazz
Issue date: 10/2/09 Section: Focus
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Return to Forever was formed in 1972 and lasted until 1977, releasing seven albums in that brief time featuring an ever changing line up whose only common factor was the duo of Corea and Clarke.
The concert started strong with its opener, The Road Show, a talented high school choir that sang many classic jazz songs, as well their own rendition of "500 Miles High" from Return to Forever's Light as a Feather. The trio took the stage soon after, delivering the original version of "500 Miles High" almost in response to the choir's cover. Without taking more than a moment to catch their breath, the band promptly started in on one of their most notable and complex songs, "Captain Señor Mouse" off of Hymn to the Seventh Galaxy. Corea underplayed the main hook, causing a cheer to come from the audience half-way through when he pounded it out mid-improvisation.
The band kept their sound acoustic, low-key, and instrumental the entire night, but that's not to say that there was any subtlety in the band's efforts to communicate. Facial expressions, shouts of surprise, and hearty laughs were shared freely between band and audience members all night.
After one of White's more impressive drum solos (switching seamlessly from alternating cymbal triplets to keeping the rhythm on the cymbals while playing the lead with the bass drum), Corea gave the crowd a laugh by pantomiming White's wild arm work.