Chick Corea & Return to Forever: Light as a Feather


Light as a Feather


Return to Forever


Light as a Feather (Polydor 827 148-2)

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Chick Corea (electric piano), Flora Purim (vocals, percussion), Joe Farrell (sax, flute), Stanley Clarke (bass), Airto Moreira (drums, percussion).

Composed by Stanley Clarke & Flora Purim


Recorded: London, England, October 1972


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

Light as a Feather was Return to Forever's second album. Because the first record, Return to Forever, wasn't released in the United States until 1975, many have mistakenly believed Light as a Feather was the band's debut effort. The first incarnation of the group was a Latin-leaning, mostly acoustic jazz ensemble that got by just fine without a guitarist. Not until Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke heard the Mahavishnu Orchestra did they decide to turn up the power by going full electric with guitarist Bill Conners in tow. It was the second band's lineup and then the third's that secured Return to Forever's place in jazz fusion history. That great success has sometimes blunted the appreciation of Corea's first band. The Return to Forever of 1972 was a great band.

"Light as a Feather" is purported to be Stanley Clarke's first major composing effort. The guy didn't think small. Though much of the tune is an impressive exposition of Corea, Clarke, and Joe Farrell soloing over changes, the melody is gorgeous. It didn't hurt that one of the most distinctive jazz singers of her day, Flora Purim, was singing or that she wrote the edifying lyrics heard at the beginning and the end. Purim possesses one of the purest voices in jazz. Her lyrics are sung, almost spoken, in time with each syllable of music. It is a wonderful display of artistry. Percussionist Airto, Purim's husband, was also a large part of the track's success. "Light as a Feather" knocks you over with a feather from introduction to coda.

A parallel can be drawn between this Return to Forever group and the great Sergio Mendes's Brazilian jazz/pop crossover band Brazil '66. RTF's formula could have been changed slightly, and commercial success would have been theirs for the taking. But then they would've had to trim "Light as a Feather" by about 8 minutes. Chick Corea and Return to Forever '72? Never mind.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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