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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chic, Stanley, Lenny and friends at the top of their game, 20 May 2011
David Terrar (St. Albans, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Forever (Audio CD)
Lenny White's straightforward, no nonsense production, along with some masterfully accurate live and studio recording has captured Corea, Clarke, White (and friends) at their best. Forever highlights the communication, coherence and musical bonds that 40 years of playing jazz together can bring to standards or fusion classics. Disc 1 and the last track on Disk 2 showcase the trio's 2009 tour. Live trio recordings of jazz standards and reinterpretations from all 3 of the Return To Forever incarnations. Chic's piano is at it's fluid best, Stanley's bass tone and swing is as musical as it gets, and Lenny's drumming is as tight and imaginative as ever. I started to list out the highlights and found I was referencing every track. Whether it is On Green Dolphin Street, Waltz for Debby, or No Mystery, these are great, great versions with delightful solos, but they are trio interpretations - a team of 3 connected in thought, not just great individual musicians (which they are too). Clarke's La Canción De Sophia is a beautiful composition. You'll love it all.

Most of disc 2 is taken from rehearsals at Mad Hatter studios for one of the tour shows that would have guest appearances from Bill Connors, Jean-Luc Ponty and Chaka Khan. They are "live" in the studio, mostly one take versions, with some banter captured on the intros and outros. Although there is a transition to electric instruments, it's a natural progression from the acoustic trio, without any prominent synthesizer on show. Connors and Ponty show the stepping stone towards RTF IV, currently touring where Frank Gambale replaces Connors, who apparently doesn't leave California. Chaka Khan's jazz voice is an excellent instrument added to Chic's High Wire and Gershwin's I Loves You Porgy. The highlights, however, are the new evolved arrangements of After the Cosmic Rain and Space Circus. Connors restrained power and Ponty's violin augments the trio, rather than it being a jolt of a shift to a new band. This is a great (return to) Forever album.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chick Corea Forever!, 7 Jun 2011
This review is from: Forever (Audio CD)
This is a welcome addition to any Chick Corea collection. The Corea, Clarke, White trio is just brilliant; group of musicians who are almost telepathic in their mutual understanding of the music. Disc carries a seamless atmosphere through a range of material from On Green Dolphin Street through No Mystery to Senior Mouse. Disc 2 introduces some Return to Forever alumni such as Bill Connors as well as the rather under rated Chaka Khan. For those of us that only really know Ms Khan as the singer of I'm Every Woman there is so much more to her that this check out Echoes of An Era which showcases her with this band along with Joe Henderson and Freddie Hubbard.

The BBC review of this album dismisses 2009s Returns but I would argue that Kevin Le Gendre is just wrong; he displays all the features of someone who remains prejudices against electric fusion jazz.

This album is a must have for any Chick Corea fan. Also check out Children Of Forever
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4.0 out of 5 stars Children of Forever, 5 Nov 2011
D. Seddon "Song Fish" (London, England.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Forever (Audio CD)
Personnel: Chick Corea- keys, Stanley Clarke- basses, Lenny White- drums w/Jean-Luc Ponty- violin, Bill Connors- el. guitar, Chaka Khan- voice

So the Forever mythos has come full circle & back to it's acoustic roots, I never get bored of getting lost in recordings of jazz musicians of the late 1960s playing prog-rock & funk influenced music at turn of the seventies. With 'Forever' 3 of the main components of this practice provide us with a disc of 'where it all began' & a disc of where it led too, that tension filled melting pot of creativity: acoustic jazzers discovering new electronic gizmos & running wild with their imaginations. Whether the reasons were commercial or not, at the eye of the storm this period has provided us with interesting sometimes awkward sounding music but ultimately never boring! As a whole package 'Forever' is a far more fascinating & thought provoking document than the recently issued live recordings of the Return to Forever reunion shows. It shares many of the same tunes as Chick's last retrospective outing with Gary Burton 'the New Crystal Silence' & the two would make great companion pieces. It's fascinating to compare how Chick approaches the tunes in the two different settings, especially when you consider that Chick's creative partnership with Gary Burton was forged at a similar time to his working relationship with Stanley Clarke. 'Forever' also shares 'the New Crystals..' crisp, clear & rounded sound.

Disc 1 then is an all-acoustic trio setting & the main event. It has a rawness that Chick seems to have lost since his early acoustic trio's & first forays into fusion & the overall result is absolutely marvellous. The best samplers of this effect would be the standards 'On Green Dolphin Street' & Bill Evans' exquisite 'Waltz For Debby' along with Chick's classic time tested theme 'Windows' which stands shoulder to shoulder with '..Debby' for it's flowing beauty. It's also fascinating to hear 'No Mystery' stripped bare in a trio setting. Lenny White swings with great spontaneity but for me the man of the match is Stanley who gets the balance of absolute musicality & great showmanship just right. He turns in possibly one of the most beautiful moments of solo upright bass on record at the end of 'La Cancion de Sofia', a composition from his own pen the version here is vastly superior to the recording he made with own group on 'Toys of Men'.

Disc 2 sees the trio meet up with some old friends for a rehearsal, Jean-Luc Ponty, Chaka Khan & Bill Connors join the proceedings. Its great to hear some of these tunes revisited in this company (especially welcome is the return of Connors who seems to be a quicker thinking improviser than Di Meola) although none of them touch the original recordings, with perhaps the exception of Chick's 'Armando's Rhumba'. The solo's on this run are perhaps slightly more exciting but it somehow just lacks that seventies charm. There's also an interesting take on 'Space Circus' & Clarke's 'After the Cosmic Rain', these two versions have a real groove to them. Chaka joins in for a few tracks including a lovely reading of the classic Gershwin tune 'I loves you Porgy' & there is a beautiful (albeit brief) jam on Trane's 'Crescent' by Lenny & Chick. I've never heard 'Renaissance' before but it's a very catchy Corea original. I would have loved the addition of more Stanley tunes with this line-up, such as 'Bass Folk Song' or 'Children of Forever' (imagine Chaka singing that one!)

For fans of these guys this is a no brainer purchase but this is particularly recommended if perhaps you're a jazzer who never really understood the fusion thing but willing to give it a go.
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Forever by Chick Corea (Audio CD - 2011)
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