Airto: "Return To Forever" (CTI/Wounded Bird)
Release Date: October 20, 2015
***** (musical performance, recording & mix)
Produced by Creed Taylor
Recorded & Mixed by Rudy Van Gelder @ Van Gelder Studios (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey)
Cover Photo: Pete Turner
Album Design: Blake Taylor
Featuring: Airto Moreira (drums, percussion, wood flutes, vocals), Keith Jarrett (acoustic piano), Chick Corea (Fender Rhodes), Ron Carter (acoustic bass), Stanley Clarke (electric bass), Jay Berliner (acoustic guitar), George Benson (electric guitar), Joe Farrell (soprano sax & flute), Hubert Laws (flute), Flora Purim (vocals)
Brass Arrangements by Don Sebesky
What a surprise! In a smart marketing strategy, Wounded Bird decided to reissue Airto's "Free" with the cover & title of its second reissue that came out in 1982 as part of the CTI 8000 series, remastered by Van Gelder and using a different cover art, although it kept part of Pete Turner's original cover photo.
Airto's first album for CTI (and his third as a leader, after "Natural Feelings" and "Seeds On The Ground"), "Free" had been already reissued in 1979 with another cover, but the original title. In 1982, however, when Creed Taylor decided to "reissue the reissue", the option to change the album title was to take advantage of the huge following of Chick Corea's Return To Forever group; specially because Corea had played on two tracks of the album, one of them being his fusion anthem "Return To Forever," chosen by Creed as the opening tune.
Creed Taylor also asked one of his sons, and by then CTI's new art director Blake Taylor, to provide a new artwork in a non-gatefold cover, replacing Bob Ciano's original design.
So it's sure that this CD reissue will appeal to all Airto's fans as well as to CTI's obsessive collectors, a comminity that doesn't stops to grow around the globe.
Besides the five tunes from the original vinyl, the CD includes three bonus tracks that appeared on an European CD released by Sony in 2003. Actually, two of them had already been selected for the first CD reissue that came out in the USA by CBS Associated in 1987: Moacir Santos' gracious "Jequié" and Keith Jarrett's charming bossa "So Tender." The alternate take of Victor Assis Brasil's "Creek" was selected for inclusion on the 2003 CD.
Jarrett shines on Purim's "Flora's Song," with a hypnotic Eastern mood, and mainly on his own "Lucky Southern," developing a truly perfect solo that deserved a transcription and analysis in DownBeat magazine. Jay Berliner does a nice Spanish-tinged solo (on acoustic guitar) on "Flora's Song" while George Benson goes electric (but in a very subtle way, sounding almost like Jim Hall thanks to Van Gelder's warm mix) on "Lucky Southern." There's no Benson solo though; he just plays the lovely melody in unison with Hubert Laws' flute.
Joe Farrell's best moment happens on the official take of "Creek," a tune composed by Brazilian saxophonist Victor Assis Brasil, who was living in the USA at that time and had traveled from Boston (he was studying at the Berklee College of Music) to NY to play on his song, at Airto's invitation. However, after the first take (that remains unreleased), Creed Taylor called Joe Farrell (who was already at Van Gelder's studio to play on other tracks) to replace him. Something that hurted Victor, who never forgave the producer.
The longest track, "Free" is a piece completely improvised by Airto at the spur-of-the-moment, on which he employs dozens of percussion instruments, uses vocal effects and even a wooden flute, sometimes creating a dialogue with Ron Carter's bass like they used to do in concerts by the CTI All Stars. No trap drums at all. Later on, Creed overdubbed Hubert Law's flute and Flora's vocal effects (some sensuous screams.)
ps: "Free," recorded in March & April 1972, was orginally released on LP by CTI on October 24, 1972. Woosh, 'nuff said! Now, enjoy the fabulous music!