RETURN TO FOREVER, Kingsbury Hall, Wednesday
There was a little musical mojo Wednesday night when Return to Forever laid down some tunes for an appreciative audience at Kingsbury Hall.
The jazz/fusion supergroup keyboardist Chick Corea, bassist Stanley Clarke, guitarist Al DiMeola and drummer Lenny White last played together 25 years ago. And though Clarke and DiMeola needed to jog their memories a bit with the help of musical scores, the group played a fiery set that got the audience on its feet throughout the night.
While the musical wizards were a bit tentative at the beginning of the gig, feeling each other's mood through some note-worthy spars, they soon conjured up a cauldron of shredding, finesse and intricacies.
During Clarke's composition "Vulcan Worlds" the band found its groove. And the energy continued with a White tune, "Sorceress."
The player addressed the audience and reiterated the fact that they were all happy to be together again. But it was White that summed it up with a nice little jab at today's pop music.
"In a day of boy bands, this is a man band," he said.
White also acknowledged the presence of Gov. John Huntsman Jr. in the audience.
"Your governor declared today 'Return to Forever' day in Utah," he said. "You are the hippest governor in the nation. Can you imagine the governor of Britney Spears' state declaring it 'Britney Spears Day'?"
With that, the band dedicated "Song to the Pharaoh Kings" to Huntsman.
Regardless of minor technical problems with the instruments, each of the guys were able to let loose during the extended compositions that poured out of the sound system. And in a symbiotic mind-set, the musicians seemed to lead and follow each other and the music, adding their own touches of musicality.
The second half of the show opened with an acoustic touch. Corea took to the piano, Clarke was on the stand-up bass, DiMeola strapped on an acoustic guitar and White had his bass drums muffled.
"We're gonna play the next song on the instruments we learned how to play on," said Corea before DiMeola's acoustic flamenco-laced intro to "No Mystery."
It was during the second act when the band let loose on their solos.
In addition to DiMeola's picturesque finger-picking solo, Clarke's rousing bass solo, which tipped its hat to John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme," had the man slapping, plucking and bowing the instrument to point of joyful noise.
Corea played the whole piano, including plucking and tapping on the key strings through the open lid.
White finally let his limb independence shine with a syncopated solo that looked deceivingly effortless.But it was all good and the spellbound crowd had no choice but to stand and applaud.