Wow...words cannot really describe the magic contained on this 2 CD live set from jazz-fusion legends Return to Forever. If you were one of the many fans who attended their Reunion Tour of 2008, you no doubt experienced the power and majesty of this band in person, but for those who didn't make it out, this set will be a complete mindblower. Proving that they still had it in them, RTF churned out plenty of their classics here (the tracks were recorded at venues in Florida and Boston) in front of loving fans, showing all the fire, finesse, and virtuosity that they so proudly displayed in the 1970's.
On the first disc, there is an amazing amount of stellar material, kicking off with an original song written by Corea specifically for the tour, titled "Opening Prayer". This is a majestic yet brief little number that would have easily found a home on any of the classic RTF albums, or even one of Chick's Elektric Band releases. It segues into the rumbling "Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy", Al DiMeola lashing out with some searing guitar licks, while Lenny White and Stanley Clarke lock into plenty of complex grooves. Other highlights here include the melodic "Vulcan Worlds", featuring tons of tasty Corea Fender Rhodes and Moog passages, the ultra funky "Sorceress", and a near 30 minute epic version of "Song to the Pharaoh Kings", easily one of the highlights of the CD. DiMeola then takes an extended acoustic solo break (although Chick does accompany on piano for part of it), playing sections of some of his memorable songs, and the band returns in full to launch into a stunning version of "No Mystery", one of the most recognizeable pieces they ever recorded.
Over on the second CD, you get stunning solos from Corea, White, and Clarke, as well as the powerhouse "Romantic Warrior", and the monster closer "Duel o the Jester and the Tyrant". The latter features plenty of complex interplay from all of the band members, and it's hard to imagine after hearing this synergy that these guys hadn't played together as a unit for over 25 years. Two bonus tracks, "500 Miles High" from their set at the Montreux Jazz Festival, and their acceptance of the BBC Lifetime Achievement award, presented by none other than Sir George Martin (followed by another performance of "Romantic Warrior"), are also included.
Toss in spectacular sound, and a booklet packed with live photos, and you have perhaps the live fusion release of 2009. Absolutely essential!
1) Opening Prayer
2) Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy
3) Vulcan Worlds
5) Song to the Pharaoh Kings
6) Al's Solo (including Children's Song #3, Passion Grace and Fire, Mediteranean Sundance, Cafe 1930, Spain)
7) No Mystery
1) Friendship (Chick's solo, including Solar)
2) Romantic Warrior
3) El Bayo de Negro (Stanley's solo)
4) Lineage (Lenny's solo)
5) Romantic Warrior (continued)
6) Duet of the Jester and the Tyrant
7) 500 Miles High-bonus track
8) BBC Lifetime Achievement award to RTF