Sunday, October 30, 2011

Stanley Clarke – Find Out!

   Born in Philadelphia, Stanley Clarke is one of most prolific jazz musicians of last four decades. He is known mainly for his double bass and bass guitar virtuosity and for his contribution as a member of Return to Forever one of most famous band in history of fusion jazz. In fact he is multi-instrumentalist, composer writing for film and television and musician playing all kinds of music from jazz and funk, through R&B to rock (esp. with The New Barbarians) and pop songs where he even sung. Many of his seventies and eighties recordings published as high-impact hit recordings later were underestimated or forgotten just because they are dance and popular songs with some short solos only.
   He became bass player by coincidence. He was late in school when instruments were assigned for students and when he at last came only double bass was available. Results he shortly achieved were astonishing and he continued to learn in Philadelphia Musical Academy. After graduation in 1971 he moved to New York where he was playing with great artists – Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, Gato Barbieri, Joe Henderson. In 1973 he joined new project by Chick Corea – super group of fusion Return to Forever. And this band became greatest achievement for all its musicians, even if it was only a small amount of their creative output. After years in reunion concerts – like in 2008 during Montreux Jazz Festival – this group gives instrumentalists a chance for expanding individual creativity with fully synergic cooperation.

Stanley Clarke – Find Out! (1985)

   Naturally there were also other musical and creative projects. Some of them were highly popular and then rejected. Most of all this applies to the disco era. Many great musicians tried to find perfect connection between dance music, possibilities of new electronic instruments and jazz idiom. It was like a next step after fusion music. Many other musicians were on the same way, trying to actualize the idea of more popular jazz. An like many musicians these times, Clarke was experimenting with styles and genres, working on ambitious projects as well as popular music for high-volume issues.
   As the artist who is really concerning about being understand for listeners, Stanley Clarke get closer to popular music. Few of his records should be treated as pop or disco concession, although it is still perfectly made music with many solutions these time can be seen as revolutionary. One of many was Find Out! – fourteenth album by Stanley Clarke published by CBS in 1985 under Epic label. He is playing bass guitar with driving energy and sings in a way eighties were fitting on. It is connected with albums recorded together with George Duke as Clarke/Duke Project which were even closer to glitter rock and disco.

Stanley Clarke – Find Out! (1985)

   Find Out! is few years later and more homogenous. This can be seen as advantage and as a result of musicians selection. In contrast to Clarke/Duke Project this group is much smaller.  The Stanley Clarke Band was only four musicians – Clarke playing basses and guitars, drummer Rayford Griffin, and playing keyboards Robert Brookings and Sunnie Paxton. Other musicians were keyboardist Pat Leonard, Pulinho da Costa playing percussions and guitarists Eddie Martinez and Raymond Gomez. Maybe songs are not so well written, but in instrumental pieces he gave some beautiful Clarke’s solos. Maybe vocals are not enough spirited. There are also discreet references to modern jazz and deeper drifts. Like in introduction to rap cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. where leader’s bass guitar gives some links to Jimmy Garrison’s tradition. It is hard to resist the impression that the music in the future will be more appreciated.

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