Originally released in 1976, Return To Forever’s Romantic Warrior could be described as the high-water mark of jazz fusion’s commercial popularity, reaching a spot on the Billboard charts and garnering the group a fanatical following of fans attracted to the band’s technical prowess and bombast. Released on the heels of the breakup of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Romantic Warrior still sounds like a standard-bearer for jazz fusion, full of flashy solos and complicated arrangements that seem like collages of different moods, meters, and tempos. The album is much closer to the progressive rock of Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer, or King Crimson than anything from the jazz realm. Return to Forever’s rhythm team of bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White, who gives the group a subtly funkier sound than most of their contemporaries. Still, it’s pianist Chick Corea, using a veritable arsenal of keyboards and effects, and guitarist Al DiMeola, only 21 at the time of this recording, who define Romantic Warrior as a fusion landmark. This reissued edition comes with improved sound and a brief reminiscence by Corea in the liner notes. –Ezra Gale
Stanley Clarke/George Duke “School Days”
Raymond Gomez – Volume
When listening to Volume, it soon becomes evident that Ray Gomez gets more soul, more feel, and more tone, than any other guitar player on the planet. Add in impeccable placed notes with “Albert King-like” timing, the album represents guitar playing that is hard to beat. Something else that needs to be said, Ray “rocks”. He is very keen on the groove within a song. Besides blistering leads, Ray keeps funk and rock groove rhythm in his playing. One could listen to Blues for Mez or West Side Boogie and say, “Well, there’s killer blues being played, funk being played, and a steady rockin’ groove. In essence, Ray Gomez is nothing short of a powerhouse. He gets more out of a guitar than is almost humanly possible, yet he does not overplay. Ray has the uncanny ability to play exactly what is needed for a song, yet with innovation, feel, and soaring power. U.S.A. is actually my favorite song on the record. It also establishes another front — that Ray is a damn good song writer and composer. Volume is a hidden gem that needs to be rediscovered. It’s still relevant and fresh today as it was when first released. Charles Wilson
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