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This is a very good album by a group of musicians who were all individually highly talented. Chick Corea together with the outrageously talented Stanley Clarke on bass produce some of the finest jazz fusion tracks all packed into one album. Jazz fusion in the sense of this album is a sort of funked up jazz- catchy and prominent bass riffs with keyboards, synth and sax.
This sounds exciting and it is, but it may not be up everyone's street- if you are not a fan of jazz then the chances of you liking this album are probably slim. The closest another band gets to this unique sound is weather report, whose music is quite similar.
Tracks of particular note on this album are Medieval Overture which has fine synth from Chick Corea and Majestic Dance which really showcases some of Stanley Clarke's talent. At £2.70 from amazon I think this would be worth a punt for most people who are into a bit of alternative music, and I hope more people will get to know and recognise this tremendous band and their music.
I was living in Boston, MA around 1978-1981 when I first heard this album attending Nursing school. I am not sure if I had ever heard of Chick Corea and his band at the time, Return To Forever. I am sure I did not know what Fusion Jazz was or what it represented. Hell, I was only modestly aware of Jazz as a musical art form. I was raised on classical and classic rock. My mom was a Juliard graduate, the famous arts school in NYC. Plus, at the time I was wholly into all sorts of drugs. Then, with headphones in place, I pressed play on the cassette machine and WHAMMMMM. If ever an album took me away in the first measure, it was this one. With the opening piece, Medieval Overture-1976, I was lost to the complex, mellifluous and carefully arranged combinations of synthesizers, drums, bass and guitar like nothing I have ever heard. So I listened to the album, not once, but three times that day because I could not get enough. Each time I would listen, I would marvel at the technical and creative abilities of each contributor:
Chick Corea on acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes, Honer Clavinet, Mini Moog, Moog 15, Micro Mini Moog, ARP Odyssey, Yamaha Organ, Poly Moog, Marimba and some percussion instrumentation.
Stanley Clark on Alembic Bass with Instant Flanger, Piccolo Bass, Acoustic Bass, bell tree and Hand bells.
Lenny White on Drums, Timpani, Congas, Timbales, Hand Bells, Snare Drum, Suspended Cymbals, Alarm Clock!
Al Di Meola on Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Soprano Guitar, Hand Bells and Slide Whistle.
All contributed individual pieces to the conceptual framework that is Medieval Warrior but all of it has the distinct creative purpose and inspiration that is Chick Corea. Brilliant production especially evident on a great stereo, or better yet, decent headphones, this music is everything that is great, actually genius in this genre of fusion jazz. Dont expect Miles or Coltrane or Monk fused here; this is clean, exceptionally thematic and tighter than Frank Zappas Mothers of Invention. Even tighter than Steely Dans best studio work.
It makes no sense here to discuss the nature of every piece; there are 6 making the CD about 45 minutes in length. It would be boring and difficult since it would be like describing the taste of a hotdog-with every possible topping you might put on a hotdog- all the flavors melding into one incredible feast for your tongue, or in this case, your ears. Hotdog might not be such a silly analogy since you might think these guys are hot-dogging it when they let loose on their respective instruments. I am especially blown away by AL Di Meola's guitar work. I can not believe a human can play leads that fast yet enable the listener to hear and digest every single note. I play guitar. I am pretty good. This guy is of another world. And Lenny White's drumming. The world clock can learn something from his precission timing. His touch runs from soft as snow to hard, pounding and driving which will get your head boppin' and feet tappin'. Stanley Clark is the bass master. No one can lay down a line like him. Wait till you here his acoustic work on this album. And at last, one can not say enough about C.C. I will leave it for you to decide.
I will say if you like jazz but have difficulty with the sort of cacophonous, trumpet or sax mind-bending solos often acquainted with straight-ahead jazz, then you will find this collection of clearly themed, deftly played and wonderfully produced tunes very palatable and pleasing for many years to come. Let me know what you think of the album and thanks for reading.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Medieval Overture
3 Romantic Warrior
4 Majestic Dance
6 Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant, Pts. 1 & 2