Combining light Latin smooth jazz with searing contemporary thrills, Bill Connors proves that he's been hard at work practicing, writing music, and studying since his last two albums, Double Up
, were recorded in the late 1980s. No sense in letting such great guitar chops get stale. With Return
, he's able to turn it loose and demonstrate the same fiery technique that he displayed with Return to Forever in 1973-74 and later with a wider selection of contemporary jazz veterans.
Aside from John Coltrane's "Brasilia," the program features Connors originals that emphasize guitar and piano equally, as well as giving the rhythm section plenty of room for adventurous exploration. Drummer Kim Plainfield, who appeared on those last two Connors albums, returns with thunderous backbeats, textural variety, and a snappy syncopated approach.
Connors brings a lyrical charm to his smooth jazz selections, a swinging rhythmic approach to his light Latin pieces, and a hot, fiery attack to his contemporary selections. "Mr. Cool" and "Mind Over Matter" provide the best examples of his blazing guitar in action. Connors' most creative improvisations come along later on "Terrabill Blues," which forges strongly ahead at a fast tempo and ignites brushfires along the way.
"Brasilia" rambles slow and smooth with a comfortably smooth Latin jazz texture. Connors lets his guitar sing out in a vocal style that resonates languorously around the room. Unlike the song's composer, Connors chooses to keep this one smooth and mellow, focusing on his fluid, lyrical way with a melody instead of lighting his improvisational fires. They are, of course, lit brightly elsewhere on the album.
Personnel: Bill Connors: guitar; Bill O'Connell: piano; Lincoln Goines: electric bass; Kim Plainfield:
drums; Myra Casales: percussion.