Friday, June 27, 2008

Return to Forever at Ottawa Jazzfest

Mr. Bitterman caught half of the jazz fusion supergroup Return to Forever set at the Ottawa International Jazzfest, June 26. Frankly, I don’t get what all the fuss is about.

Aparently, many people who were teens and young adults in the latter '70s, eventually got into jazz via “progressive” rock bands such as Genesis, Yes and ELP. (See Ottawa Citizen journalist and jazz pianist Peter Hum's blog) From there, they segued to jazz/rock fusion bands such as Return to Forever, and from there into other styles of jazz.

Obviously, they are great musicians (led by keyboardist Chick Corea, with guitarist Al Di Meola, bass player Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White). But I couldn’t help but think that the group was comprised of four extreme egos. From what I caught – the second half of their show – it consisted of each musician doing a solo, one after the other. Apparently they did all come together as a group for a few jazz rock fusion anthems before I arrived, but all I saw and heard were solos. See review in Ottawa Sun.

Mr. Bitterman was never into those progressive rock bands in the '70s. In fact, I went in a completely opposite direction with punk, post-punk and new wave. And ultimately, Mr. Bitterman's interest in jazz came more from my father listening to the likes of Sinatra and Louis Armstrong throughout my childhood. Something like that never leaves you.

Anyway, the crowd at Return to Forever was the largest in jazzfest history, according to reports – so there must be something to it. I think there’s a lot of dudes who, in their formative years in the '70s, were smokin’ a lot of pot and trippin’ to that type of rock. Mr. Bitterman, instead was pogoing to 999, the Stranglers, the Pistols, the Clash ...

Return to Forever was certainly an interesting spectacle. However, when it comes to jazz, Mr. Bitterman is definitely a bop, be bop, and hard bop type of guy. That’s why, instead, Mr. Bitterman will enjoy Charlie Haden moreso on June 27.

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