After a successful run through Australia earlier this year, Return to Forever IV -- the latest incarnation of the jazz supergroup -- comes home for a 32-date North American tour this summer. And it will have some new music in tow, promises keyboardist Chick Corea.
"There's brand new music that Stanley (Clarke) has written and I've written, mainly," Corea tells Billboard.com. He adds that longtime percussionist Lenny White and new violinist Jean-Luc Ponty have also written material for the group. "We're trying to squeeze all this into a 75-or 90-minute show along with everything else from (Return to Forever's) history and our individual repertoires."
Corea says some of his new music was written before he, bassist Clarke and drummer White launched RTF's 2008 reunion tour with guitarist Al Di Meola but weren't played during that trek; he also has a fresh, flamenco-style song called "Planet Chia." Clarke has composed a piece titled "New York," while violinist Ponty's "Dream Revelations," according to Corea, "sounds like it's got these Debussy-like chords but it's a real Jean-Luc, melodic, slow groove, and it's a nice complement to what we're doing."
Corea says "there's been talk" about a studio recording by Return to Forever IV -- which also includes guitarist Frank Gambale from Corea's Elektric Band -- but says the group is "not planning that right know. As most bands are, it's a work in progress; we just want to see how the whole thing develops when we get on the road. There's a lot of possibilities of how to bring recordings around these days, so we'll see what's the best way to get our message out there." He says Return to Forever IV does plan to document this summer's tour and expects that "there will be enough tapings of the band and enough videos made of the performances that we'll be able to choose something of really good quality and that really represents what we're doing to offer to the fans."
Corea says that for the summer show, RTF fans can expect "a pretty nice balance between playing our electric sounds and also acoustic tunes, too. There'll be some good beats and grooves. And there's a lot of new elements in the band with Jean-Luc and the violin, which is brand new. Stanley's had bands with violin before; I haven't worked in that way too much. So it'll be very diverse. We've already had the Australian tour, which was a lot of fun. Where we take it from there is the question that's not decided now. We'll see what develops."
As to whether there was a consideration of including Di Meola in RTF IV, Corea only says that after the 2008 tour, "I think we sort of musically thought it was a nice time to take a break and go different ways. Al's got his great music that he's making with his bands, and it was time for a little space to occur."
Here are the dates for Return To Forever IV's summer tour, with Zappa Plays Zappa opening:
Aug. 7: Pittsburgh, Pa. (Stage AE)
Aug. 8: Buffalo, N.Y. (UAB Center for the Arts)
Aug. 9: Baltimore, Md. (Merriweather Post Pavilion)
Aug. 10: Philadelphia, Pa. (Mann Center)
Aug. 11: Boston, Mass. (Bank of America Pavilion)
Aug. 12: New York, N.Y. (Beacon Theatre)
Aug. 13: New York, N.Y. (Beacon Theatre)
Aug. 16: Columbus, Ohio (Lifestyle Communities Pavilion)
Aug. 17: Cleveland Ohio (State Theatre)
Aug. 18: Cincinnati, Ohio (PNC Pavilion at Riverbend)
Aug. 19: Detroit, Mich. (MeadowBrook Music Festival)
Aug. 20: Chicago, Ill. (The Venue at the Horseshoe Casino)
Aug. 21: Indianapolis, Ind. (The Murat)
Aug. 22: Nashville, Tenn. (Schermerhorn Symphony Center)
Aug. 24: Minneapolis, Minn. (Orpheum Theatre)
Aug. 25: St. Louis, Mo. (Fabulous Fox Theatre)
Aug. 26: Kansas City, Mo. (The Midland by AMC)
Aug. 27: Denver, Col. (Paramount Theatre)
Aug. 28: Salt Lake City, Utah (Red Butte Garden)
Sept. 8: Atlanta, Ga. (Fox Theatre)
Sept. 9: Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (House of Blues)
Sept. 10: Boca Raton, Fla. (Mizner Park Amphitheatre)
Sept. 11: Clearwater, Fla. (Ruth Eckerd Hall)
Sept. 13: Austin, Texas (Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater)
Sept. 14: Grand Prairie, Texas (Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie)
Sept. 15: Houston, Texas (Verizon Wireless Theater)
Sept. 17: Mesa, Ariz. (Mesa Arts Center)
Sept. 19: San Diego, Calif. (Humphrey's by the Bay)
Sept. 20: Los Angeles, Calif. (Greek Theatre)
Sept. 21: San Francisco, Calif. (Warfield Theatre)
Sept. 23: Eugene, Ore. (Silva Concert Hall, Hult Center)
Sept. 24: Seattle, Wash. (Paramount Theatre)