Return to Forever

The set of the show

As a sort-of-Father’s day present, my dad took me to see Return to Forever last night at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. I don’t expect that most people would like the show – fusion jazz is really not for everyone, and really, there’s lots and lots of bad music in the genre. However, Return to Forever is one of the three major groups from the genre that are truly amazing. I was raised on Chick Corea in one form or another, and I still listen to him with some frequency. He’s innovative, unique, sometimes overly complicated, but always interesting. Last night’s set was all of the above, but really, really amazing.

Normally when you see a live song that lasts 25 minutes, and you’re not stoned, you get a little bored. The way these four play prevents that from happening because unlike rock, there are somewhere between 10 and 30 timing changes and such complex interplay between musicians that your brain joyfully tries to keep up.

The musicians all seemed to be equally in love with the audience and we were with them and it made for a really fun show. They played for over 3 hours with a short break – and had both an electric and an acoustic set. I’m a big fan of the bass guitar, and Stanley Clark is amazing. While his playing was stellar, his solo on the upright base was moving. There were elements I’ve heard elsewhere, but his entire solo was unique and haunting. I hope I remember even 1/4 of it.