The 70's fusion group Return to Forever returns to the road this month. They are appearing in 50 cities in the USA and Europe. This group helped define the jazz/rock/fusion genre of music. RtF combined the now well known musicians Chick Corea, Al DiMeola, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White into a super group of jazz/Latin virtuosos. This tour coincides with the newly released re-mastered album "Return to Forever: The Anthology".
They released four albums between 1973 and 1976, separated and then briefly toured again in 1983. Each of them has enjoyed prolific careers apart from Return to Forever which is partly to blame for the 25 years between tours.
I worked as a lighting tech on one tour date when they appeared at the Rochester Auditorium theater (NY State) during the 1983 tour. It was really a dual pleasure to work and see the show. A classic, "I'm getting paid to do this?" moment! I even got to chat with Al after the show for a couple minutes while we tore down the lighting gear.
I became aware of their work well after their initial heyday even though I was aware of their contempories Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report. I also greatly admired the Dixie Dregs, who were heavily influenced by Mahavishnu Orchestra too.
As a "part time" drummer (meaning I always had a day job) I always aspired to be able to play that sort of music even though realistically I am too lazy to do the work to reach that level. That and that my natural sweet spot or "talent" is, I think, contemporary rock.
I was introduced to Al Dimeola's solo work by the sound engineer that I worked with for a few years in the early 80's. I own nearly all of his (Al DiMeola's) albums and still frequently listen to them to this day. I've managed to see him perform a couple times over the years and I'd encourage anyone who enjoys this type of music to do so. His solo work is a collaboration with many of the finest musicians to ever play. Naturally I became curious about the other places he practiced his craft which led me "back" to Return to Forever.
Sadly their tour dates don't coincide with my travel plans so I'll miss out on this tour. It took them 25 years to get around to touring again, so if you are a fan, do your best to catch their show! Who knows how long it will take for the next one?