Year in Music 2017

Chick Corea Plans New Music With Freedom Band, Return to Forever

Return to Forever

It looks like Return to Forever fans won't have to wait long for the jazz fusion supergroup's next reunion.

The well-credentialed quartet of keyboardist Chick Corea, guitarist Al di Meola, bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White toured together for the first time in 15 years in 2008, yielding the live album and DVD "Returns." Now, Corea tells, "We're talking to one another about putting something together for next summer, actually," and are currently nailing down details.

Clarke, meanwhile, says that the group is "thinking about having a Forever Festival. We'll pick locations to play and have a bunch of our friends come and play. We go to a city for a week, and every night we have...a different person or different group of people come in." Clarke adds that the festival concept could turn into an annual event.

The group members have plenty happening in the meantime, however. Clarke has just released a new electric album, "The Stanley Clarke Band," and is in the midst of a tour to support it. Corea, meanwhile, is juggling a variety of projects that will keep him busy, alongside Return to Forever, this year and next.

He's currently on the road with the Freedom Band, an all-star ensemble that includes saxophonist Kenny Garrett, bassist Christian McBride and 85-year-old drummer Roy Haynes. All three played on Corea's 2000 album "Remembering Bud Powell," while Garrett and McBride were also part of Corea's recent Five Peace Band and Haynes also played on the "Now He Sings, Now He Sobs" album in 1968. "It's just the sweetest environment for me," Corea says of the quartet. "It's just wonderful playing with these guys. We speak the same language, all of us, and it's like home ground. It's the improvisation and the challenge of coming up with something every time we step to the plate. That seems to be the ongoing way we do it. I think that's part of the agreement of the (jazz game)."

The Freedom Band shows are being recorded, and Corea expects to release some sort of album from the tour. He's also finishing work on an album of recordings from last year's tour with Clarke and White which may also include some material from a Hollywood Bowl show that also featured Jean-Luc Ponty, Bill Connors and Chaka Khan. Corea has a trio tour later this year with McBride and drummer Brian Blade, while next year will bring the premiere of his second piano concerto.