Legendary bassist/composer Stanley Clarke latest project, entitled “The Stanley Clarke Band and released June 15 on the Heads Up International label, a division of Concord Music Group, has essentially allowed him to venture into new levels of experimentation, utilizing his arsenal of bass instruments.
Clarke compares this new release to the first three albums of his solo career — “Journey To Love,” “Stanley Clarke” and “School Days” — with long electric pieces that take the listener on an extended musical journey.
However, unlike his previous releases, Clarke feels this album is different from just about anything he’s done before.
“There are people on ‘The Stanley Clarke Band’ other than myself who have something to say,” said Clarke. “Everyone on this project brought their own music and their own ideas. The styles of the individual tunes may be different, but the continuous thread that runs through the whole record is the fact that we’re all operating as a unit on each track.”
The set opens with “Soldier,” a track that has a majestic feel to it which is appropriate for an introductory chapter to a great body of work.
Track two, “Fulani,” written by Cameroon bassist Arman Sabal-Lecco, is a mixture of old and new Clarke styles that allows him to explore his sub-Saharan ancestry while simultaneously blending his contemporary approach to music.
Track three, “Here’s Why Tears Dry,” is such a carefully written composition that it tends to fade in and out of what appears to be oblivion, only to come right back into the heart of its intent, superbly.
Track six, “No Mystery,” is a piece from the old Return to Forever days, done masterfully and in impeccably good taste. Chick, Lenny and the rest of the gang could have only felt honored with this well-conceived interpretation of a classic.
All ten tracks collectively are possibly Clarke’s most prolific project in the last decade. He still lets the younger bassists know who the master is while artists such as the amazing pianist Hiromi, drummer Ronald Brunner Jr., guitarists Charles Altura and Rob Bacon, and saxophonist Bob Sheppard have the latitude to be as creative as their skills will allow them to be.
David G. Watkins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.