Return to Forever
Light as a Feather


5.0
classic

Review

by Hernan M. Campbell STAFF
September 19th, 2012 | 27 replies


Release Date: 1973 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Exquisite and wondrous. Light As A Feather is a marvelous addition to Jazz, as well as an undeniable classic.

The musical style that is portrayed in Light As A Feather was rather intriguing for its time and place. Return To Forever arose as one of the defining acts in the early Jazz Fusion movement of the 1970's, yet another group of musicians that were birthed by the innovative genius of Miles Davis, but they completely deviated from the adopted styles of their contemporaries. Albums like The Mahavishnu Orchestra's The Inner Mounting Flame and The Weather Report's Weather Report, established the familiar reputation that Jazz Fusion was a genre whose music emphasized solely on extensive soloistic spontaneity and ambient sonic textures. Implying that the once traditional conventions of Jazz music were now being integrated, and in some cases even replaced, with prominent outside influences like Progressive rock and Funk music. While this may be true for many acts of the time, Return To Forever initially remained faithful to the habitual customs of Jazz, which in the end helped distinguish them from their peers.

All of the pioneering Jazz Fusion groups of the time were founded by musicians who were in some way or another connected to Miles Davis. And thus, the sound of every group is often rooted from a particular album by 'The Prince of Darkness'. The early atmospheric and abstract nature of The Weather Report is derived directly from In A Silent Way. The Mahavishnu Orchestra's aggressive and rock oriented style is obviously inspired by the more rambunctious side of Bitches Brew. Return To Forever's music, on the other hand, originally took its sound from albums that reflect Miles Davis' transitional period from Post-bop to Jazz Fusion, such as Miles In The Sky and Filles de Kilimanjaro, a style much more in tune with Bebop than rock. The performance in Light As A Feather continues to exude the elegant euphonic harmonies of its predecessor, while completely ignoring the more experimental approach that was being explored by other Jazz Fusion acts. But Light As A Feather is just as elaborate in its musicianship, though rather than being artistically complex, we are treated with pieces that keep us floating along nebulous clouds of exquisite melodies.

The album opens with "You're Everything", an overture that features the alluring voice of Brazilian singer, Flora Purim. This song is blossoming with radiance, first inviting us into a delicate and romantic environment before having us ascend into a more elevated musical performance. There are eminent Samba and Flamenco influences that are expressed within the music of the album, and it is obviously acquired from the Latin backgrounds of musicians, Chick Corea, Airto Moreira, and of course, Flora Purim. There is a very lively tempo that flows throughout "You're Everything", primarily catalyzed by Chick Corea's jubilant piano solos and Airto Moreira's jaunty percussive rhythms. It's a very provocative melody, and one that evokes an irresistible temptation to dance along its inviting harmonic merriment. "Captain Marvel" and "500 Miles High" exhibit the more dynamic nature of the album. "500 Miles High" is definitely the highlight between the two, as it is overwhelmed with explosive and spontaneous musicianship. From Chick Corea's ever grandiose piano virtuosity, Stanley Clarke's lightning fast basslines, to Joe Farrell's eruptive saxophone solos, each musician perfectly execute their performances with such impressive agility and adroitness.

Though as electrifying and astounding as the other songs of the album may be, none match the majestic beauty of the album's concluding piece, "Spain". A breathtaking ode to the wondrous jewel of the mediterranean, "Spain" borrows a lot of influence from traditional Spanish music. In the opening arrangement of the song, we find Chick Corea imitating a Flamenco style of playing on his piano, inciting a dramatic setting to set the mood before flourishing into a graceful melodic flare. Once again, each musician takes turns in the spotlight to display their musical dexterity. The most sumptuous performance is perhaps that given by Joe Farrell, whose prominent flute displays exercise the most versatility among the other instruments. Opulent and stunning, Joe Farrell solos always ornament the music with such elegance, whether it's in the overall melodic theme of the piece, or when he is venturing out on his own. But to be fair, each sound that emanates from every instrument are all equally important, for it's their intimate coalescence that makes "Spain" such an illustrious marvel of musical sorcery. Light As A Feather is perhaps one of the most accesible Jazz Fusion albums of the time, and within its mellifluous allure, it's almost impossible to not be seduced by its charm. This is a truly entertaining work of art and simply a marvelous addition to Jazz, as well as an undeniable classic. This album alone is evidence that Return To Forever are, and will always be, recognized as one of the most distinguished acts in their respective genre.



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user ratings (68)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
September 19th 2012


4443 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I was surprised to see that no one had reviewed this yet because this band rules. There's also a few albums of their without reviews so I'll start on that soon.

Jazzin' sputnik up!

someguest
September 19th 2012


20881 Comments


I definitely need to hear "Spain" after your description of it. Also, nice history lesson in the second paragraph.

Digging: Dexter Gordon - Our Man in Paris

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
September 19th 2012


4443 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks, someguest. Its a goods song, and definitely one of my favourites so I hope you like it.

YoYoMancuso
September 19th 2012


11154 Comments


wow, you barely ever do 5 reviews so I can tell this is great. Awesome review as usual, pos'd

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
September 19th 2012


4443 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks Jack. You should chekc this out, I think you'd like it.

Manic_
September 19th 2012


447 Comments


Spain is like the Sweet Home Alabama of jazz. Album brings the cheese in some places but musically it's amazing.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
September 19th 2012


10614 Comments


Amazing review, Hernan. You've convinced me to get a hold of this asap. Sounds really sweet.

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io

CaptainDooRight
September 19th 2012


29962 Comments


Damn, review is really good and I love what I'm reading. Gotta hear this so bad I've got blue balls. Pos'd while simultaneously breaking my finger ;]

Digging: Fleurety - Min Tid Skal Komme

someguest
September 19th 2012


20881 Comments


I just listened to "Spain", and it is indeed awesome. It's on repeat now!

GiaNXGX
September 19th 2012


4867 Comments


Return to Forever is kinda overlooked here but all their material is excellent. Awesome, pos'd man, I
thought this had a review... Set aside- I'm also gonna Jazz' sputnik up! :] Sam River's Dimensions &
Extensions review is on the way...

CaptainDooRight
September 19th 2012


29962 Comments


Sounds cool Gian.

GiaNXGX
September 19th 2012


4867 Comments


Yep, Sam Rivers passed last year and I was kinda depressed for a week because of that, he is one of my favorite jazz musicians. However; he had a great life full of interesting and beautiful music & he managed to play with many "prolific" musicians along the way, he was part of Miles's ensemble until Miles thought Rivers was too "avant-garde" or "technical" for what he was looking for.

CaptainDooRight
September 19th 2012


29962 Comments


Rip bro

sounds like he had a fulfilling life

GiaNXGX
September 19th 2012


4867 Comments


yes he had, listen to this bro- this guy is so technical and complex - some of his work is like if
fucking Gorgut's Obscura was transformed into free-jazz (but not as dark), simply mind-blowing.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEr8GCw5g5s&list=SP3953BDD496D42807&index=3&feature=plpp_video

Ire
September 19th 2012


41803 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah great album

Jruined
September 19th 2012


1301 Comments


Great album. Nice review.

Digging: Scott Walker and Sunn O))) - Soused

KILL
September 19th 2012


71965 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

rules

Digging: Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
September 19th 2012


4443 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thanks everyone. Hope you like the album.


I'm also gonna Jazz' sputnik up! :] Sam River's Dimensions &
Extensions review is on the way...


Oh, I cant wait to read it. Youre a great writer so I know it will rule. And yeah he passed away last december, its a shame but he left behind a great legacy. Really talented musician.

mindleviticus
September 19th 2012


8293 Comments


Holy hell, Paperback.

You just reviewed one of my favorite jazz albums. :]

I honestly can't rate it a 5 because it wouldn't be justified to the 200% I already have in my mind.

GiaNXGX
September 19th 2012


4867 Comments


Agreed.



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