Return to Forever featuring Chick Corea: After the Cosmic Rain

The Return to Forever group that recorded Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy was Chick Corea's second edition of that unit. RTF's first incarnation had been a mostly acoustic ultra-hip Latin jazz ensemble. But, in an effort to play more electric music and connect with a larger audience, Corea pared the group down to him and Clarke, then added drummer Lenny White and guitarist Bill Conners. This decision was very much based on the tenants of Scientology (which Corea had, mostly unbeknownst at the time to the general public, embraced) that stressed communicating one's message to as many people as possible. Many of Corea's new song titles now related to the stories and concepts of Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

The music maintained a Latin undercarriage, but RTF was now playing in fusion's big leagues. Thirty some years out, "After the Cosmic Rain" is instantly recognizable as a Stanley Clarke composition. Its catchy hooks, soaring phrases and many theme changes would later become Clarke trademarks. A simple bass riff begins the tune. The other players enter en masse and climb up a ladder. The structure of the piece allows enough room for the talented musicians to take explorative solos and for Clarke to do so in an extended and jaw-dropping way. In places, Corea sounds much like his contemporary Jan Hammer. The interplay between Corea and Conners, who was a fine fusion guitarist, is especially pleasing. White's drumming is of a high-caliber. The tune ends as it began, flying out into space.

"After the Cosmic Rain" is very representative of Return to Forever's best work. But this lineup would be short-lived. Al Di Meola would replace Conners for the very next project, and the band's sound would change again.

February 14, 2008 · 0 comments


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