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4.8 out of 5 stars
The Mothership Returns [2 CD/DVD Combo]
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
B. Bernardini ... I think your jazz professors better go back to music school. HeeHee! This is an incredible product... probably another one of Chick's Grammy awards waiting to happen. Just so fortunate to be getting a quality release from RTF -- again, the sound mix is out of this world! -- even though the venerable guitarist Al DiMeola is left off this one. I understand drummer Lenny White did the bulk of the mixing of this CD. It couldn't be any better! The addition of Frank Gambale and inclusion of strings player Jon Luc Ponty makes is an acceptable tradeoff.

As for tempos of songs, it's not unusual for this to happen as music is heard over years (decades, in this instance). Futhermore, its authors probably know note-for-note where to take it to the next levcel. Totally love what RTF IV did to "Spain" and many other tracks. It just is part of maturation of the music. Sometimes more space between notes is of value. Long-time RTF fans... and those who saw the group on the live 2011 tour ... will no doubt be blown away when they hear this CD/ DVD.

A must-buy! Long Live Return To Forever!
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I've been following RTF since the early 70's. Chick Corea Stanley Clarke, and Lenny White never cease to blow me away with their musicial capabilities. (Being a musician I am especially impressed) For this tour, Frank Gambale played lead guitar, and Jean-Luc Ponty joined the fantastic ride with his violin. I was honored to see the most recent RTF tour, and this release brings that tour live to the listener. These guys have a connection musically that brings you to another dimension. I highly recommend this CD/DVD if you appreciate musicians who have mastered their instruments. If you have been a long-standing RTF fan, you'll love this recording. If you're new to jazz/jazz fusion, treat yourself to something extraordinary. The double CD comes with a high-quality DVD; it takes you up close and personal with the band members; it illustrates their creativity, and gives some history/background to some of their tunes, with some live footage of the most recent tour. The Mothership certainly has returned!
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
These guys are heroes to me. Being a musician myself, I know how hard it is to make excellent and original music AND play it well live. (I'm not saying you have to be a musician to know that, but I really appreciate the magnitude of what it means because I try it every day and think about it constantly)

So when I hear this CD, I'm filled with a massive amount of hope and inspiration for my own future. These giants of musical creation helped (and continue to) light the fire that makes my life immensely colorful and enjoyable; Particularly music like this because of its of unique character. Even after several decades it is still fresh and beautiful and people want to hear it and people want to hear THEM because they are some of the greatest musicians on the planet.

I had the great honor of seeing them live during their world tour in September of 2011 at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, FL.. and it was the best night of my life, bar none, just to see and hear them live. I felt like I got to see a major part of history. (But they are NOT "history" yet. Clearly they still have so much to say!)

As far as the actual content of the album goes, I am maximally pleased. They NEVER cease to amaze me.. There's always some sort of new musical surprise in each tune. They never really play the same way twice which is wildly fun and to me the ultimate goal for musical expression. Plus, I have to say, I love that most of the tracks are so long. Each one is like a journey and they take you down all kinds of different paths and expose you to different concepts. They are all still very much alive and well with what they do and to me they trump any modern band in terms of energy, enthusiasm and overall sound.

After all... They are a MAN band.
Long live RTF, long live PURE MUSIC.
THANK YOU RTF, WE LOVE YOU DEARLY!

- Nick Spagnuolo, Palmetto, FL

"When you play, you play life" - Jaco
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
There's no greater joy in music than seeing musicians you've loved for nearly forty years play better in their 60's and 70's than when you first discovered them. Unlike pro athletes where we can only enjoy their prime for a decade if we're lucky, great musicians continue to grow and expand until their final breaths. I remember seeing Buddy Rich come creeping onto the old Tonight Show set in the 1980s and thinking "c'mon...really?" Then old Buddy settled down behind the drum set in his leisure suit and proceeded to blow the lid off the joint. I was amazed then. I'm even more amazed now that "my guys" have hit that stage in their careers and are still bringing it better than they ever have on "The Mothership Returns".

I read one critical comment that questioned the resurrection of old compositions. Do we criticize a brilliant pianist for resurrecting Rachmaninoff or Tchaikovsky? We're not talking about tunes from the bubble gum pop music factory which are time-locked in relevance by the churn of musical fads on the Billboard charts. Return To Forever and their musical contemporaries created dynamic compositions of unparalleled complexity and beauty which remain unrivaled to this day.

Like the recent releases of "Returns" and "Forever" these magnificent musicians expand and improve upon their former works by the sheer preponderance of new arrangements combined with their ingeniously exponential growth as expansive artists. Disc 1 of "Returns" and disc 2 of "Mothership" combine to deliver the finest live performances in the history of the genre. Admittedly, disc 1 of "Mothership" (for whatever reason) does start out sounding a bit labored with the updated version of "Medieval Overture". Unexplainable considering the sheer brilliance of the remainder of the album. Like a great Major League trade, Frank Gambale and Jean-Luc Ponty more than compensate for the absence of Al DiMeola. Gambale holds his own. But then you hear the introduction of Ponty's violin into the rhythmic blend and all you can do is shake your head in joyful disbelief at the mystically adventuresome results. The dueling solos between Ponty and Chick Corea on "School Days" highlight the best live recording of Stanley Clarke's signature song ever heard. It's unbelievable. Moreover, it's a musical privilege to revel in it.

The highlight amid countless highlights for me was Stanley Clarke's solo on "After the Cosmic Rain". I've been a Stanley Clarke fan for nearly forty years. I buy the good stuff and the bad stuff like he's a relative. I've marveled over the decades as he's added new innovations to his Hall of Fame finger arsenal. It's been like enjoying 40 years of a mythical version of Michael Jordan growing and expanding without diminish of his core brilliance. Then in one single marvelous solo Stanley unleashes a fresh career's summation of power, virtuosity, speed, beauty and passion the likes of which I'd never heard before. I'm just getting to the point where I can listen to it without getting emotional thanking God I lived long enough to hear the world's greatest bass player play out so magnificently! It was similar to that moment during Chick's acoustic "Senor Mouse" piano solo on "Forever" where you're having that Moses moment staring into the burning bush of jazz perfection.

If you love boundless musical artistry in the hands of the most dominant and creative virtuosos of the last half century, this live album is the joy of the craft.

Oh,and Happy Birthday Stanley! Can't wait for what comes next.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2012
Format: Audio CD
Seriously, there are times that people will get chills listening to this music. Yes, it is some old RTF music. But it is also old Stanley Clarke music and old Jean-Luc Ponty music. And I have to hand it to these guys to stoop down to our level and deliver familiar music. They didn't have to do this. There would be a lot of people that would buy this music if they didn't recognize one thing off of it. But, if you happen to love this familiar music as I do you'll love the way that they perform it live. I read an article on how Chick Corea supervised the sound sampling and editing on a Yamaha synth to get just the right reproduction of the old sounds from the old RTF music. And that's just the sound. All of the musicians faithfully reproduce the whole piece of art but with a live feel and using modern recording techniques. When I say that they didn't have to do this I mean they had to have the discipline to practice together enough to play this stuff just right. And believe me, they do!

Ok, so I'm a big RTF fan. My iPhone plays Romantic Warrior when I wake every morning. And I'm still kicking myself for not finding a way to get to Chicago (closest city to me) to see them when they toured last year. So I was absolutely thrilled to hear that this music and video became available. All I can say is that I really love this CD. I was concerned that Al Di Meola wasn't playing guitar. But Frank Gambale does a phenomenal job. He was in Chick's Electric Band. You know a guy is good when he can play the licks from the recording perfectly and then just thoroughly impress you when he's let go to do what he wants.

And I don't think I've ever heard a fusion band that has ever had the power and tight licks of Lenny White and Stanley Clarke. Of course both of these guys stand out on their own. But put them together and you have the power of a rock band that can play circles around just about anyone.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Jean-Luc Ponty. This puts the icing on the cake. His music and the RTF music just belong together. When Jean-Luc doubles the guitar lines it just sounds WONDERFUL! Of course he is just a great musician just like everyone else in this band. But his style and music composition just fits. All in all, this is one of my top choices in my large collection of music. It's a very unique and rare piece of art.

<edited - 7/15/2012> I apologize. RTF did perform in St. Louis during their tour. So I'm even more lame for not going to see them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2013
Format: MP3 Music
I've been waiting to see if they would release the concert in some fashion. I saw these superstars of Fusion Jazz a couple of years ago at the Mann Music Center in Philadelphia, PA. To add to the experience, was the fact that they had 'Zappa Plays Zappa' as an opening act. Two great shows for the price of one in my opinion. I am currently writing this while I'm jamming to the album on my home theater system and yes, I have the volume cranked up.

Saw Chick, Stanley and Lenny a year or two before this show at the Zoellner Arts Center at the Lehigh University in the Allentown / Bethlehem area and was blown away at how much music came from a grand piano, an upright bass and a trap set drum setup. These guys had the hall swaying to their tunes. Didn't get a chance to meet them at this event, so when they came to Philly, I decided to up my experience by buying a pre-autographed drum head. This purchase gave me access to the back stage after the show. Such a wonderful trio to be around in person. So down to earth. I didn't think that someone of Stanley Clarke's stature could be so nimble on a bass guitar, man is he tall. Unfortunately, Jean-Luc Ponty and Frank Gambale declined to be part of the after show meet, but I was able to get their autograph on the drum head as well through the back stage rep.

Just listening to the music with my eyes closed, I can still picture what I saw of their performance. For anyone interested in Jazz at its finest, you need to get this album. These fine gentlemen aren't getting any younger and who knows how much more they can keep up the music.

Did get a laugh during the concert when Chick was talking about how much he and Jean-luc have played on each others albums over the years, but only in studio settings. Chick said that this was the first time in 40 years that they have played a live show together. Well worth the money spent, for the shows and the album. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2014
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I passed on going to see this incarnation of RTF in the summer of 2011, because I had seen the quartet version featuring Chick Corea, Al Di Meola, Stanley Clarke, and Lenny White back in 2008. Even though I am a huge Jean Luc Ponty fan, and love Frank Gambale's playing, somehow I made the bonehead decision to not go see this Di Meola-less quintet show in Austin. When I gave the CD a listen, I realized just what a tragic mistake that was. Totally scintillating show, of course! The near-twenty minute version of Jean Luc's masterpiece, Renaissance, is brilliant, as is pretty much all of this CD. The recording is clear, crisp, and explosive, and each of these five virtuosos will rock you. Thanks, Chick, Stanley, Lenny, Jean Luc, and Frank! Highly recommended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Having seen RTF live in the 2011 tour I was very interested in the CD. I disagree with the earlier review that this record is a step-down from the 2008 RTF Returns CD/DVD. I actually find the addition of Jean Luc Ponty an excellent one. At various points you have three string instruments playing and it's fascinating trying to determine which one is which. I also think Ponty's Renaissance is a highlight of the record. The DVD is nice not great. I'm really hoping they do a full blu-ray release of their tour.

I didn't following RTF for the 1st thirty plus years but this is an excellent testimony to their staying power. Highly, highly recommended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Professional reviewers are raving about this (version of the) band and this release ... understandably so. Read those reviews if you want, I'll keep my review brief.

I saw RTF perform in September of 2011 in San Francisco and was mesmerized! I therefore expected nothing less from this release. And they do not disappoint. If you're a fan of jazz fusion, JLP and/or RTF, then you will truly enjoy this release. The mixing and production, especially given that this is a live recording, is also very well done.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
The amount of creativity that went into the arrangement of each one of these classic tunes is amazing. Chick's solo over top of the walking bass line of Stanley Clarke during the tune, After the Cosmic Rain, is one of my favorite moments of Return to Forever music ever. Finally, a no prisoners taken blowout version of School Days has been released. The sophisticated blending of the Shadow of Lo from, Where Have I Known You Before, with Sorceress from Romantic Warrior with its numerous twists and turns is another highlight of this release. Jean-Luc Ponty's every solo adds a large touch of energy and classicism to each tune. You expect greatness from Chick, Stanley, Lenny and Jean-Luc, but I was surprised and then amazed by Frank Gambale's contribution. His job in RTF is the hardest, adding his own flavor to one of the greatest musician's band in history on tunes from their classic legacy. I hope he gets paid the most! On first listen he fits in on every tune and then the more you listen the more you notice his flavorings on every tune. Gambale has internalized this music and then filtered it through his own personality on guitar. I can't wait to hear his playing on new Return to Forever music. Lastly, the production value of this music is extremely high. The mix of this CD places you right in the center of the stage, where you can hear the dynamic range of each instrument. If I cannot have new music from Return to Forever this is as good as it ever will get from them.
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Customers who viewed this also viewed
Romantic Warrior
Romantic Warrior by Chick Corea (Audio CD - 1999)

The Anthology
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Returns
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