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Return to Forever IV added to Mondavi lineup

Members of Return to Forever IV, described as the definitive jazz/rock fusion ensemble, are, from left, violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, drummer Lenny White, keyboardist Chick Corea, bassist Stanley Clarke and guitarist Frank Gambale. The band will perform Sept. 21 at the Mondavi Center. Courtesy photo

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May 17, 2011 |

Return to Forever IV, described as the definitive jazz/rock fusion ensemble, will make its Mondavi Center debut on Wednesday, Sept. 21. The performance, presented as a “just added” event for the 2011-12 season, will begin at 8 p.m. in Jackson Hall.

Tickets will be available starting Saturday at the Mondavi Center ticket office, (530) 754-2787, or online at http://mondaviarts.org.

Almost 40 years after Return to Forever first appeared on the scene, the much-honored ensemble is making one of its storied returns to action. And, in the bold tradition of renewal that the band has established as an essential quality, this latest installment combines elements from the group’s rich history with an exciting vision of the jazz future.

Driven once again by the powerful engine of Chick Corea’s keyboards, Stanley Clarke’s bass and Lenny White’s drums, RTF IV takes to the road in the company of the superb French violinist, Mahavishnu Orchestra veteran Jean-Luc Ponty, and the fiery-fingered Australian guitarist Frank Gambale.

Audiences should expect to hear this musically dynamic line-up take on rearranged Return to Forever classics, as well as highlights from each member’s discography.

“Since all the guys in the band are such good composers, I wanted to have everyone’s compositions add to the new RTF IV vibe,” said Corea, Return to Forever’s keyboardist. “So we all agreed: Let’s open it up — which is the way we like it, and I think the way the fans like it, too.”

The performance also will include Zappa Plays Zappa, founded by Dweezil Zappa to bring the music of his late father, Frank Zappa, to contemporary audiences through a series of international performance tours dubbed “Tour De Frank.”

Zappa Plays Zappa, a 2009 Grammy Award winner, continues to record and perform on a regular basis around the world.

“I think my Dad’s music deserves to be heard by a wider audience,” Zappa said. “I really think he’s been misunderstood for far too long, which brings me back to why I’m doing this: I’m so in awe of his accomplishments and want more and more people to know about him, and I think the best way for people to first discover his music is on a visceral level in a live situation.

“I think you have to be confronted with the complexity and the beautiful subtlety of all of it to fully appreciate the artistry of it.”

“Just added” concerts augment the Mondavi Center’s 2011-12 season of performances, featuring classical, dance, speakers, jazz, film and cultural programs. Single tickets for all other 2011-12 performances will go on sale Aug. 12. Subscriptions are on sale now.

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