Returning to Return to Forever

Corea, center, says the real adventure is in second-guessing his Return Forever IV bandmates.

Even though Chick Corea began playing with some of the musicians in Return to Forever IV nearly 40 years ago, the pianist says he is still never sure where their collective improvisations will take them.

“The adventure is always second-guessing one another, that’s part of the jazz game,” he says. “The songs that we do are just sort of like jumping-off points.”

The band has evolved in fits and starts, honing their collective skills in everything from Latin grooves and fusion to acoustic jazz, with a few elongated periods of silence abating their output, but Corea says they are always able to pick up where they left off.

“There’s change always but there’s a constant factor, which is the musician himself, and the friendships that we formulated, and the taste in music that we still have,” he says, with a touch of a jazzman’s Zen in his voice. “All of those things are part of the personality and it’s what makes a great relationship. … We’re always sorting things out and trying different stuff every night — that’s part of the way it goes.”

Fans are wondering if there will ever be a new album from Return to Forever IV, which also includes bassist Stanley Clarke, drummer Lenny White, guitarist Frank Gambale and violinist Jean-Luc Ponty.
“I’ve written about 10 new pieces, and Stanley’s got a handful of them and Lenny’s got some new stuff,” says Corea, “but we just have not had the opportunity to work it in. We have a short hour-and-a-half set and just the basic material that we’re playing from the old days tends to run long. So we’ve got this music sitting there, and we’re kind of tossing around ideas of what to do with it.”



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