When pianist Chick Corea, bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White joined forces with guitarist Al Di Meola for a concert of the meeting of their behemoth merger of the mid-1970s Return to Forever a few years agothe results were rather progressive belief. All planned chops were there, but the vanguard has been largely absent. Cynics might cock a snook at this company which showcases the triumvirate of the Group - Corea, Clarke and white - but it would be unfair that fusionphobes rush to judgment.
To begin with, it is a two CD set which shows that, for all of their desire to wade through the choppy waters of jazz-rock electric, Corea et al. have been very well anchored in hard-swinging acoustic bebop, which is highlighted by live recorded titles on sites such as Yoshi in California. As expected, musicians with 50 - something years of experience of game flex their muscles quite happily on standards such as Bill Evans Waltz for Debby and Hackensack the monk, where isolation, interaction, and the instant moment in the rate of the exchange of ideas are masterful. However, things become perhaps more interesting when the trio twice no mystery of Corea, a registered originally acoustic piece right in the middle of the electric Saturnalia of the RTF. Music is just as powerful, regardless of the absence of a battery of synthesizers and wah wah pedals, mainly because Clarke has a huge tone, robust which lends as much backbone the sound together as would be the case were all guitars and keys involved.
Disk two consolidates the electro-acoustic continuum by increasing the trio with former student the RTF qualified, guitarist Bill Connors as Zappa ex-Frank violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. Improvisations lack any bite, but fair arrangements are too telegraphic sense, featuring a guest after another; the end result is much less engaging than the trio, perhaps because the core of Corea-Clarke-white is therefore coherent. Diva Soul Chaka Khan, who has recorded with the trio back in the 1980s made a welcome to a charming original Corea appearance High Wire - skiing and the evergreen of Gershwin, I love you Porgy.