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Jazz - Released June 29, 2018 | Mack Avenue Records

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45 years after his first album, Stanley Clarke shows that he is still an untouchable virtuoso on the bass, electric and acoustic guitar, with an artistic vision that is completely his own. Supported by friends as varied as rapper Doug E. Fresh and trumpet player Mark Isham and accompanied by a band featuring Cameron Graves and Beka Gochiashvili on keyboards and Mike Mitchell on drums, the bass ace unfurls all his know-how on this record, whether he’s throwing himself into a torrid funky swerve or revisiting a Bach suite! There’s an impressive eclecticism throughout, though this former member of Return to Forever never ceases to be himself. What’s more, Stanley Clarke doesn't forget to pay tribute to some recently deceased colleagues: George Duke, Prince, Leon "Ndugu" Chancler, Darryl Brown, Tom Petty, Chuck Berry, Larry Coryell and Al Jarreau. © Clotilde Maréchal/Qobuz

Jazz - Released June 19, 2014 | Heads Up

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The 2010 self-titled release by the Stanley Clarke Band is aptly titled; it actually feels more like a band record than anything he's done in decades. This isn't saying that Clarke's solo work is somehow less than, but when he surrounds himself with musicians that are all prodigies in their own right, the end results tend to be more satisfying. Produced by Clarke and Lenny White, his band is made up Compton double-kick drum maestro Ronald Bruner, Jr., Israeli pianist/keyboardist Ruslan Sirota, and pianist Hiromi Uehara (aka Hiromi) who plays selectively but is considered a member. There are guests, too, including a horn section, a couple of guitarists in Rob Bacon and Charles Altura, and saxophonist Bob Sheppard. Clarke plays his usual arsenal of basses. Sirota and Hiromi also contribute compositions to the album. They include the former's set opener "Soldier." While its intro is quiet and melodic enough, it evolves, first into a modal study with Clarke playing the melody before it kicks into jazz-rock overdrive with Altura playing a distorted rhythm guitar to Clarke's Alembic tenor bass. Dynamics shift and turn; they make the track a multi-faceted investigation with Sirota's piano solo sourcing both McCoy Tyner and Herbie Hancock. Hiromi's "Labyrinth" melds elements of "My Favorite Things" to modern post-bop and classical architectures; the breakbeats by Bruner add a funky touch, and Clarke's layered basses become a focal foil for the piano. There is also an updated reading of Chick Corea's "No Mystery," from Clarke's days with Return to Forever, that captures the tune's near transcendent curiosity without trying to re-create it. The drama brought by Clarke's bass is tense and declamatory. "Sonny Rollins" contains the theme from "Don't Stop the Carnival" and is Caribbean-flavored, but pays tribute to the saxophonist's entire career. Written by Clarke, it contains wonderfully knotty passages on acoustic as well as electric basses; Sheppard's fine soloing and fills make it a jumper. "I Wanna Play for You Too" is funkily self-explanatory for Clarke fans, while "Bass Folk Song #10" is a gorgeous solo piece. "Fulani" is an excellent piece of contemporary fusion, where "Larry Has Traveled 11 Miles and Waited a Lifetime for the Return of Vishnu's Report," dedicated to Joe Zawinul, is a clumsy, failed attempt at summing up the music's history to date. The ballads, including "Bass Folk Song No. 6," which closes the set, work less well, but these are minor complaints on an otherwise fine recording. ~ Thom Jurek
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Pop/Rock - Released July 14, 2008 | Epic

Billed as a product of the Stanley Clarke Band, Find Out! is a fairly desultory exercise in techno rock/funk, undermined mostly by routine song material. Consisting of Clarke, Rayford Griffin (drums), Robert Brookins, and Sunnie Paxson (keyboards), plus a handful of sessionmen, the band wasn't one of Clarke's more inventive or hard-charging groups, and they do their machinelike best with what little they are given. When Clarke is reduced to rewriting his classic "School Days" on "My Life," you know that the well is running dry. The sole intriguing curiosity is a cover version of "Born in the U.S.A." that sounds like a black man's parody of white arena rock, with Springsteen's bitter lyric ground out rap-style by Clarke. Well, at least that was a bit ahead of its time. ~ Richard S. Ginell

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