Regular readers of my blog will know that my sweet spot in Jazz was typically between 1957 and 1966. Before that, the Swing era really wasn’t my thing, and as of somewhere in 1967 jazz decided to go either towards free jazz (which I can’t stand) or towards fusion. I fully understand why a musical genius like Miles Davis cannot be bothered to record one Kind of Blue after another (even if I wish he did), but unfortunately the 1970s really were mostly a kind of no-go-zone for me Jazz-wise, as I already mentioned in my recent blog post about Keith Jarrett going back to what I like with his Standards Trio in the 1980s.
The only 1970s albums I like are usually by Bill Evans, who basically stuck to his beautiful trio style until the very end, and some of Keith Jarrett’s work, like his solo albums (Köln, Bremen/Lausanne, Sun Bear), or a selection of his European work like My Song).
But let me write here about one of the few albums from that era (that is truly fusion) that I like, not only because we played some of its song of the with my amateur Jazz group when I still had time for that (our favorite was 500 Miles High, the crazy chord changes still drive me nuts when I’m trying to play it now).
Chick Corea & Return To Forever – Light As A Feather (Polydor 1973)
I’m just noticing that I have had my blog for more than 5 years now and I’ve never written about Chick Corea. Probably just because of the fact that a lot of what he did really is in the fusion genre.
So, who is playing here? Well, Chick obviously, mostly on a Fender Rhodes electrical piano, and then Return To Forever, with Airto Moreira on drums, Joe Farrell on saxophone and flute, and Flora Purim’s beautiful voice. Most of the tracks are Samba inspired, which is the only style of fusion I can listen to (Jazz Rock makes me run away).
This is actually the second album that Corea recorded with Return To Forever, the 1972 predecessor (simple called Return To Forever, recorded by the way by Manfred Eicher who just had started ECM some years earlier), is also very good. I’ll have to review that one another time.
So, what are my highlights here? I’d say, Captain Marvel is really grooving very nicely, but 500 Miles High with it’s 9:14 playing time has even more room to develop, in some of the middle part the percussion just goes crazy.
And then there’s my hidden favorite, Spain, inspired by the Concerto Di Aranjuez (which I wrote about recently), or more likely by Miles Davis adaptation Sketches Of Spain with Gil Evans).
Overall, you should really check this classic out if you’re not aware of it yet.
My rating: 4 stars (the four stars are very personal, I take of one star as fusion still isn’t fully my cup of tea).
You can find it here (Qobuz)
7 thoughts on “One Of The Few Fusion Albums I Actually Like: Light As A Feather”
Just want to mention 70s is my sweet spot in both jazz and especially rock music, probably because it was the decade when I first start listening to music seriously. From Chick Corea fusion output I like until now My Spanish Heart and Where Have I Known You Before the most. However, each new album of him was a great discovery in those years. And, if we spoke about fusion, then, of course, Mahavishnu Orchestra (and Shakti), Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, Jean-Luc Ponty, and so on. And, of course, a Miles Davis electric bands of the first half of decade – I still believe He Loved Him Madly, the composition which occupied the whole A side of two-LP set Get Up With It is the towering achievement of fusion music in the 70s. From more traditional jazz I have fondest memories of albums by McCoy Tyner, Dexter Gordon, Freddy Hubbard, Alice Coltrane, Anthony Braxton, Sam Rivers, Air, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Cecil Taylor, David Murray, and others. And, of course, the whole body of ECM Records first decade which I was happy to cherish almost entirely in those years.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks for sharing! By the way, I fully agree with the 1970s being great for rock, I’m a huge fan of e.g. the early Genesis albums under Peter Gabriel. Unfortunately for Jazz, I keep trying, searching, exploring, but only few albums stick. But I keep looking!
Yes) I love Selling England by the Pound, and could listen it any day. In those years I was huge fan of Yes, Close to the Edge was favorite, King Crimson from first album up to the Red. Zappa, of course. The Who, Chicago, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Manfred Mann’ Earth Band. But the group which 70s output I prefer now most of all is Grateful Dead. And Dylan.
I never really took note of the fact you didn’t do much fusion. I haven’t heard this album in a while so I’ll have to give it a listen. But hang on – I can’t say how much fusion vs. acoustic Chick did but I wrote about his “Now He Sings, Now He Sobs” album a while back. Pure acoustic. I don’t know if you know it but as a pianist, I can’t imagine you wouldn’t dig it. Pretty classic.
Oh, boy. Not to bum you out Chris but I assume you’ve heard this news. I hadn’t thought about Corea in a while, then we discussed him. Then this.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Wow. Thanks for sharing! I really don’t know what triggered me to write about Chick just now. Too bad. One more brilliant artist I will never get to see live.