NEW YORK — Chick Corea will tour for the first time in 25 years with Return to Forever, one of the pioneering jazz-rock fusion bands that melded daring improvisations with hard-driving rhythmic grooves.
The quartet — reuniting the keyboardist with guitarist Al Di Meola, bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White — announced Wednesday that they will return for more than 50 dates in the United States, Canada, and Europe, kicking off the much-anticipated tour on May 29 in Austin, Texas. and ending in New York on Aug. 7. The tour includes performances at major summer jazz festivals in Montreal; Montreux, Switzerland; San Sebastian, Spain; Nice, France; and Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs. (Details have not been announced yet by SPAC, but its annual Freihofer’s Jazz Festival will take place June 28 and 29.)
“We never stopped talking about it, but in the past couple of years we started talking more seriously about ‘hey when can we set some time down to actually get together and play.’” said Corea. “There were also a lot of requests from fans. One thing that became apparent as the decades flipped along was that people remembered the group which was kind of surprising and also heartening.
“The band had a kind of presentation and impact that reached a lot of people — jazz fans, rock fans, young people,” he said. “The audience seemed to widen when we played this music. We’re going to see what happens this time.”
This particular RTF lineup influenced future generations of musicians with their mix of cutting-edge electronic technology led by Corea’s synthesizer experiments, fiery rock and funk beats fueled by White’s drums, instrumental virtuosity exemplified by Di Meola’s guitar licks, and a blend of acoustic and electronic sounds created by bassist Clarke and other quartet members.
RTF founding members Corea and Clarke, who remained with the band from its launch in 1972 to its break-up in 1977, are also producing a double-CD anthology to coincide with the tour with remixed and remastered tracks from the band’s classic albums from 1973-76: “Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy,” “Where Have I Known You Before,” the Grammy-winning “No Mystery” and “Romantic Warrior.”
“We agreed that the first time out we’re going to mostly play the original repertoire from the ’70s, but everybody’s got very fresh ideas about how to approach the music,” said Corea, who got together with his bandmates last month in Los Angeles for their first rehearsal since a 1983 reunion tour.