Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Musicmagic is Return to Forever's seventh and final studio album and one of the best jazz recordings released in the fusion genre. The album contains the final line-up of the band with only founders Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke returning from the previous recordings. This 1977 release was the first Return to Forever album in five years to contain vocals, performed here by Corea's future wife Gayle Moran and the surprisingly enjoyable Stanley Clarke. This album also marked the return of original member Joe Farrell on saxophone and flute, along with several new members making up a killer five-piece horn section.
The sound is remarkably more orchestral than anything the group had previously done, a cross between fusion, jazz vocals, big band and grassroots acoustic jazz. Musicmagic celebrates the pure joy of music with contributions from Corea ("The Musician"), Moran (the existential jazz ballad "Do You Ever"), Corea and Moran together ("Musicmagic" and "The Endless Night") and Clarke ("Hello Again" and the album's single greatest moment, "So Long Mickey Mouse," offering particularly great spots for Farrell's flute and soprano, Corea's keyboard kaleidoscope and Clarke's entrancing bass).
Musicmagic is eclectic and adventurous and filled with a great sense of accomplishment. The album reached #4 on the Billboard Jazz chart and the new Return to Forever doesn't lose a beat when compared to the earlier recordings.
CD Review - Performance 6 / Sound 7
Chick Corea/Return To Forever includes: Chick Corea (keyboards); Stanley Clarke (vocals, bass).
This is a specially imported limited edition 20-bit digital remaster from Japan.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
Personnel: Harold Garrett (vocals, tenor trombone, bass trombone, horns, organ, Hammond b-3 organ); Chick Corea (vocals, piano, Fender Rhodes piano, Clavinet, synthesizer, mini-Moog synthesizer); Stanley Clarke (vocals, acoustic bass, electric bass); Joe Farrell (flute, piccolo, reeds, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); James Tinsley (trumpet, piccolo trumpet); John Thomas (trumpet, flugelhorn); Jim Pugh (tenor trombone); Gerry Brown (drums).
Recording information: Aribou Ranch, Colorado (01/1977-02/1977).
Illustrator: Catherine Loeb.
Photographer: Keith Williamson.
The third and final edition of Return to Forever gave Chick Corea an excuse to write for a four-piece brass section and to tour with bassist Stanley Clarke, his old friend saxophonist Joe Farrell, drummer Gerry Brown and his future wife, vocalist Gayle Moran. Unfortunately, the compositions are not too memorable on this set and the lyrics are a bit lightweight. Better to acquire this group's live recording if possible. ~ Scott Yanow