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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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STANLEY CLARKE

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Mack Avenue MAC 1083

 

 

1. Pop Virgil

2. Last Train to Sanity

3. Up

4. Brazilian Love Affair (Dedicated to George Duke)

5. Bass Folk Song No.13: Mingus

6. I Have Something To Tell You Tonight

7. Trust (Dedicated to Nana)

8. Bass Folk Song No. 7: Tradition

9. Gotham City

10. Bass Folk Song No. 14: Dance of the Giant Hummingbird/Bass Folk Song No. 15: Eleuthera Island

11. School Days

12. La Canción de Sofia

Collective personnel

Stanley Clarke – Alembic electric bass guitar, acoustic bass, vocals, synth bass, Alembic bass, tenor bass

Ruslan Sirota - Acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes, synthesizers

Beka Gochiashvili - Acoustic piano

Paul Jackson, Jr., Joe Walsh, Jimmy Herring - Guitar

Greg Phillinganes – Keyboards

Phil Davis - Synthesizers, keyboard

Chick Corea – Piano

Kamasi Washington, Doug Webb, Dan Higgins - Sax

Jessica Vautor, Natasha Agrama, Patrice Quinn, Marielle Arredondo – Vocals

Gary Grant – Trumpet

Andy Martin – Trombone

Lenny Castro, Felipe Fraga – Percussion

Nick Mancini – Marimba

Harlem String Quartet: Ilmar Gavilán, Melissa White – Violin, Jaime Amador – Viola, Matthew Zalkind - Cello

Stewart Copeland, Gerry Brown, John Robinson, Ronald Bruner, Jr., Mike Mitchell- Drums

From the very first track, this is Stanley Clarke the bass guitar hero. He picks out the melody on his bass guitar with a vehemence that says “I’m here!” And the drums thrust out the beat with a similar power. It sounds like any other jazz-funk piece, firmly asserting Stanley’s presence, which is dominant through nearly every track on the CD.

Clarke wrote every number on the album, with one significant exception: Brazilian Love Song, composed by (and dedicated to) Stanley’s late friend George Duke, who died in 2013. It’s the longest track on the album: a funky yet tender tribute featuring teenage pianist Beka Gochiashvili’s flowery solo, with heavenly voices in the background. It is marred by a stumbling drum solo from Michael Mitchell but retrieved by Clarke’s acoustic bass solo.

The album is punctuated by a series of “bass folk songs”, which concentrate on Stanley’s skill with various forms of double bass and bass guitar. Trust (dedicated to his daughter) is another thoughtful track expressing what seem like some conflicts arising from a family discussion.

The other side of the coin is represented by several fast and furious tracks, including the title-track – thrust along with punchy drums from Stewart Copeland. And who’d have thought it was almost 40 years since School Days originally hit us between the ears? Here it seems rather less fiery than the original. Last Train to Sanity might even have been written during Stanley’s days with Chick Corea’s Return to Forever. Corea duets with Clarke on La Canción de Sofia, an almost classical tribute to Clarke’s wife. It was recorded at a concert in Japan and features Stanley on arco double bass and Chick on acoustic piano.

This album is a strange mixture of the raucous and the touching. The number of guest stars is almost indecent, with such great names as Joe Walsh, Greg Phillinganes and Paul Jackson, Jr. scattered among the cast. The CD certainly shows that Clarke has lost none of his impressive talent as performer and composer. And yet his sliding between different genres is not entirely convining.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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