Sunday, September 16, 2012

Chick Corea & Return to Forever - Light as a Feather (1972)

Chick Corea & Return to Forever's second album is a fine example of fusion with a variety of Latin influences. The album starts out with the track "You're Everything" which Corea has noted is his favorite vocal track that he has ever released. The track begins with Corea ornamenting the head chart in a slow tempo utilizing mostly block chords with vocalist Flora Purim coming in with the words. What's great about this opening section, is the sensitivity by with Corea and Purim present the original theme. The rest of the band then enters when Corea moves into double-time and takes on a very syncopated Latin feel throughout the rest of the track. When analyzing the form of the piece, it is relatively simplistic, but it is the transitions engineered by Corea and the backgrounds on the flute by Joe Farrell that really make for a great track. The second track "Light as a Feather" starts out with vocals, but it is much more of a display of the instrumental soloists when considering the entirety of the track. Corea's work on the Fender Rhodes on this track is quite remarkable; his improvisational interpretations against the rhythmic pulse of the track show a very mature soloist when you consider how well he develops the motives and transitions to new ideas. Joe Farrell and bassist Stanley Clarke get to showcase their ability on their respective instruments and Farrell also displays his ability in the altissimo range of his horn. "Captain Marvel" is definitely the most uptempo chart on the album and primarily showcases Chick Corea's technical ability whether it be his fast runs or his ability to comp Farrell's flute with syncopated chords. The real masterpiece of the album is Corea's chart "Spain," which along with "La Fiesta" on Return to Forever make up his most well-known compositions. The beginning of "Spain" is a direct quotation from the Adagio (second) movement Joaquin Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez a guitar concerto famously performed by such guitarists as Paco de Lucia. Interestingly enough, "Spain" comes twelve years after Miles Davis released Gil Evans' rendition on Sketches of Spain in 1960. "Spain" is an upbeat chart that melded jazz fusion with flamenco elements. Not only is Spain groundbreaking in its use of flamenco harmony, it is also groundbreaking in its use of syncopated rhythmic material. Light as a Feather is one of the finest records released by Return to Forever and is a perfect showcase of Corea's playing after he "went electric."