Next time on the Vinyl Vault, it’s a fusion classic, Return to Forever’s “Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy.” Released in 1973 on Polydor, this was the third album from this Chick Corea led group. But it was the first of the second incarnation of Return to Forever.

The first two RTF albums featured Stanley Clarke on bass, Joe Farrell on flute, Airto on percussion and Flora Purim on vocals (along with Corea, of course). For “Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy,” Farrell, Airto and Purim were gone and replaced by Lenny White on drums and Bill Connors (later to be replaced by Al DiMeola) on guitar. The first two RTF albums were primarily acoustic and had an airy Latin/Brazilian sound. But this new version of RTF was all electric and all about jazz/rock fusion.

This version of RTF (more or less, with the swap of DiMeola for Connors) went on to release a total of four albums culminating in “Romantic Warrior,” released in 1976. This incarnation proved to be the most popular and commercially successful of the three RTF versions.

“Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy” displays the tight, intricate, virtuosic playing the band became famous for. Seemingly impossible unison runs are interspersed with wide-ranging hurricane force solos. The rhythm section of Clarke and White provides not just a solid foundation, but its own tension-filled presence and counterpoint to the pyrotechnics of Corea and Conners.

Veteran fusion fans will recognize this one and those new to the genre will delight in the discovery of a true gem.

Dig the Vinyl Vault, this Tuesday, November 18, at 8:30 pm on KUVO JAZZ.

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