Eagle Rock Entertainment returns to the Live at Montreux line of titles that helped kick off their initial foray into the Blu-ray format with Return to Forever Returns, the 2008 reunion of legendary jazz musicians Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Al Di Meola and Lenny White. While the Montreux festival was pioneered as a Jazz festival from the start, many releases from Eagle Vision had little to do with the actual genre until now (the first release from Montreux I reviewed was KoRn…hardly jazz in any way). Now, those who not only enjoy the festival but those who enjoy the Jazz genre itself can fully bask in the glory that Return to Forever brings to the stage with the release of their summer 2008 concert.
The hottest jazz ticket in the summer of 2008 was the highly-anticipated reunion of Return To Forever with its legendary line up of Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Al Di Meola and Lenny White. Vivid imagery and spectacular sound with breathtaking performances of RTF’s classic repertoire, including “Vulcan Worlds”, “Sorceress”, “The Romantic Warrior” and “No Mystery”. Plus exclusive bonus footage of the group’s celebrated U.S. tour, including the RTF opus “Duel of the Jester & the Tyrant”.
I know as much about jazz as I do about building a house, but even with my complete lack of knowledge about the band playing here, I was still really entertained by the concert if for no other reason than the fact that the men on stage clearly knew their craft. It also helped that they could play the hell out of their instruments, with Chuck Corea switching between various models of instruments throughout the entire concert. I couldn’t begin to tell you what they were, but it was a very entertaining way to spend nearly three hours.
Yes, the concert is lengthy, but it provided some fantastic background music as I went about the daily tasks. I found myself drawn to the TV more often than naught regardless, as the concert itself was not only engaging and a lot of fun to watch but also simply looked and sounded great (more on that later, of course). The presence the band had on stage was nothing short of fantastic, with the crowd obviously into it and the band members each showing off their wide range of skills.
Of course my knowledge of the genre and the band is limited to only this release so I unfortunately am not a fountain of knowledge and can’t even begin to pick out any of the songs they played at the concert. For that reason I’m probably not the best person to review this title, although I will say that upon doing so I’ve certainly gained a stronger appreciation of jazz as well as an interest in Return to Forever, so if nothing else this release helped make me a fan. For those who are fans and can pick out their songs, however, the track list is as follows:
2. Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy
3. Vulcan Worlds
5. Song to the Pharaoh Kings
6. Al s Solo
7. No Mystery
8. Chick s Solo
9. Romantic Warrior
10. El Bayo de Negro (Stanley s Solo)
11. Lineage (Lenny s Solo)
12. Romantic Warrior continued
Overall if you’re a fan of them you’ll certainly enjoy it a great deal more than I could ever have, but newcomers looking for a foray into the live jazz concert scene (a strange scene to just jump into, but hey), then this is a great concert to prime yourself with. In fact it may end up spoiling you, as I cannot imagine there being many more concerts out there that match the intensity and level of enjoyment that this concert brings from the first song alone.
Arriving in a standard Elite Blu-ray case, Return to Forever Returns sports a standard double-sided insert that Eagle Vision likes to give us (although instead of a shot of the concert or stage, there’s just some wavy blue texture on the reverse…weird). Disc art is similarly simple, but pleasant to the eyes and as is customary with these releases, a booklet recounting a writer’s feelings about the concert as well as photos from the concert and other goodies as well.
Video arrives in an AVC encoded 1080i 1.78:1 transfer that brings this concert with the utmost clarity. Detail on faces and clothing is top notch and video issues that crop up are incredibly minor and really don’t hinder your enjoyment of the concert in the least. The included varieties of audio, a LPCM Stereo, DD5.1 and a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix are all included and, yes, the DTS-HD reigns supreme. While LPCM is loud and clear, the separation of instruments in the DTS-HD mix simply cannot be beat and if you have the ability to do so, I suggest you crank this one up and let it blast throughout the house. It truly sounds fantastic.
Extras include five songs from their U.S. Tour in Clearwater, Florida (recorded just two weeks after this Montreux concert). The songs included are:
1. Lineage (Lenny’s Solo)
2. Al s Solo
3. Friendship (Chick’s Solo)
4. El Bayo de Negro (Stanley’s Solo)
5. Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant
And really you can include the booklet as a bonus as it includes a nice look back on the concert as well as photos from it, so all in all this is a solid package for fans. Recommended.
Return to Forever Returns is now available on Blu-ray.