The itemized list of grievances against Return to Forever is indeed a long document. Maybe the most fitting description of the band also serves as the most succinct and damning criticism: fusion supergroup. Or maybe another pair of equally odious words will suffice: Al DiMeola. At any rate, after reading Nate Chinen’s excellent article in the NYT about jazz MP3 blogs working to redeem the 70s – the lost decade of jazz. I went rummaging through some stinky stacks of dusty vinyl with a mind for sharing a spurned track a two. If RTF weren’t spurned, I don’t know what was.
This track, "Sofistifunk," comes off of RTF’s 1975 record No Mystery. I always loved the percolating nonsense talk of the synth, and the way the track builds from there, with sideways backbeat-displaced drums, bobbing-and-darting bass line, and even the gnarly slur of Al’s guitar. If some hip-hop wiz hasn’t already sampled that opening groove, I’ll be shocked. Things do take a turn for the worse about 45 seconds in, when part B kicks in, with its more straight feel and Al’s big seed-spilling solo. This tune is definitely one of RFT’s best, and that’s surely because it’s one of the few written by drummer Lenny White. Which buffers you, sort of, from the general Scientological frippery of Chick Corea, the shameless guitar heroics of DiMeola and the bass player’s many-fingered big moments of Stanley Clarke.
"Sofistifunk" - Return to Forever
Let me now offer an all-purpose apology for sharing a little too much.