J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Fusion Warriors and the “S” Word


This month’s Downbeat (limited content on-line) features “Fusion Warriors” by Willard Jenkins, a “Behind the Music” style look at Chick Corea’s 1970’s fusion super-group Return to Forever. While Jenkins does discuss the tensions arising from members’ solo projects, as well arguments over money, one subject seems to be missing. The “S” word: Scientology.

Supposedly, the name Return to Forever was inspired by L. Ron Hubbard’s writings. For his part, Corea has been an active proponent and recruiter for Hubbard’s church. According to his Wikipedia entry, one-time RTF band member Joe Farrell told Corea “not to ‘lay that Scientology shit’ on him.” Longtime RTF bassist Stanley Clarke was involved with Scientology as well, but he has reportedly broken with the Church. One can also see RTF concept albums like Romantic Warrior as being precursors to Corea’s recent CDs inspired by Hubbard novels, which feature some excellent music.

“Fusion Warriors” expresses criticism of Corea, particularly for not agreeing to a reunion tour. According to Al DiMeola: “Three years ago we were on the verge of a reunion, but Chick had a change of heart, with no explanation why. It’s so sad to deny a whole new generation—and our past fans the chance to see us one more time.” It just seems like DB is missing part of the story here, regardless of how you feel about Scientology, pro or con.