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Return To Forever: Romantic Warrior

AAJ Staff By

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I sit here, exhausted after a long day of yard work, an hour or so of computer troubleshooting, and outside a 50 mph squall line of severe thunderstorms baptizes day’s end. But all is not fatigue and frenzy—before me a glass of red wine glows, grilled steak and new red potatoes steam, candle-lit eyes of my beloved are smiling, and Return to Forever’s re-released Romantic Warrior breathes nostalgia into our midst. Such intangible bliss and music like this is precisely what life’s finer experiences is all about.

Some history first. I remember the sadness I experienced upon hearing Bill Connors had left RTF and that this flashy Al Di Meola had replaced Connors—RTF was just not the same. I essentially shunned them. Even though I continued buying releases, sampling RTF members’ solo offerings, I never heard that same magical fire that Connors had lended. On another front The Mahavishnu Orchestra fizzled out into fusion confusion. What was happening here? The ‘70's fusion-fest seemed to be passing into mundane oblivion or mutating into something worse. Then this release came along. I was amazed and thrilled. It wasn’t all I expected. It was more. Everyone on this release performed magically. Jazz rock fusion had reached another pinnacle. Compositions were unbelievably complex and beautiful, unison lines moving wildly, solos inspired and superb, and the artistic soulfire was at maximum. RTF was peaking all sysytems.

There was a playful yet forceful punch happening here. Chick Corea‘s keys were perfect cool, Al DiMeola’s guitar voicings, phrasings, and leads awesome, Stanley Clarke’s bass playing went beyond the mere words’ description, and Lenny White’s drums as usual, superbly jazzy grooves. Also impressive; each member wrote at least one song of the six offered. Amazingly, this release was 100% cohesive, like movements of varying force in one stream of thought. Nothing was lacking, nothing was excess, Romantic Warrior remains to this day, a diamond, exuding flawless beauty. Yes, it grew out of the jazz rock fusion genre but it’s fine art that outlives its hey day, an example of just how incredibly wonderful fusion can be. Strangely enough, Romantic Warrior was this incarnation of RTF’s last true hurrah. Nothing else afterwards ever came close. It was as if RTF was saying goodbye and thank you creating a monument to a fading era, a waning passion.

For those of you wondering if this remastered, re-release is technologically superior in sound quality to prior releases and worth grabbing—listen up. Yes, no doubt about it. For those of you never even hearing of this until now—this is a jazz/ jazz fusion fan must-have. It is a unique classic that never grows old. Like steak and wine by candle light after a long hard day, Romantic Warrior is a very, very good experience. Highest recommendations.

Title: Romantic Warrior | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Columbia Records


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