I saw Chick Corea and Return To Forever twice in the mid 1970’s. The first time was in I believe early 1974 at St. Lawrence University in update New York, where I was going to school at the time. Hey, Steve Grill and Larry Grasso, do you remember that show?
The group had just started out and was made up of Stanley Clarke, Lenny White, and Bill Conners. Early Jazz Rock Fusion, with monster playing from all and especially Bill Connors on guitar. I had not heard anything like it. It was very cool. He kind of stole the show with these incredible solos, getting the most applause from an appreciative audience. For some reason I remember Chick and Stanley looking a little peeved as Bill was getting the most attention and applause. The funny things we remember.
I saw them a year later and Billy Connors was gone, replaced with a young speed demon Al Dimeola. I cannot remember where this was, and at the time it did not seem quite as jaw dropping. Can’t say I was ever a big Return To Forever fan overall, being more into so called acoustic jazz, with all the saxophonists throughout history for example, but I always appreciated Chick and his different bands, including the Electric Band (which I saw in the early 90’s where he was co-headlining with Herbie Hancock and his Rocket Tour, and he stole the show from Herbie), his Three Quartets with Michael Brecker (who was great on this), his more recent touring trio efforts, his solo work. I wish I had seen him more.
During the pandemic I viewed a couple of Chick’s hour long Zoomed live “practice” sessions, where he played, talked, and communicated with the audience. Chick will be sorely missed by all of us.
The new old guard is slowly leaving us. Welcome to the new guard.