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The Stanley Clarke Band

4.5 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 15, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

2011 GRAMMY NOMINEE: BEST POP INSTRUMENTAL PERFORMANCE & BEST CONTEMPORARY JAZZ ALBUM

Renowned bassist Stanley Clarke's new recording, The Stanley Clarke Band, is unlike his previous acoustic bass releases, Clarke feels that this album's music is fresh and different from just about anything he's done before. Produced by Clarke and Lenny White, the range of collaborative material on The Stanley Clarke Band has allowed him to venture to 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 extended electric pieces that take the listener on a kind of journey.

"Technically, it's a Stanley Clarke record, but it's very much a band-oriented record at the same time," says Clarke. "I may be the leader, but everyone played an important role in what emerged. If a project like this can be looked at like a ship, I'd be the one steering the ship and keeping everybody on course. But all hands were definitely on deck, and everyone played an important role in getting us to our destination."

Also a new foray for Clarke, the album includes original compositions from members of the band. He is joined by Stanley Clarke Band keyboardist Ruslan Sirota and drummer Ronald Bruner, Jr. - who have been performing and recording with him for the better part of five years. Innovative young musicians, they have virtually grown up in Clarke's band and bring a freshness he admires. Following 2009's highly-acclaimed Jazz In the Garden, this is featured artist Hiromi Uehara's second Clarke recording collaboration. Clarke's rugged and complex bass work serves as the ideal foil for her trademark fiery and expressive piano chops, as reflected through critics' praising it as "a superb trio effort" (Bass Player) and "one of the best jazz CDs of the year" (San Jose Mercury News).

"There are people on The Stanley Clarke Band other than myself who have something to say," explains 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."

Among the additional players in the album's supporting cast are vocalist Cheryl Bentyne (a longtime member of The Manhattan Transfer); guitarists Charles Altura, Rob Bacon, and Armand Sabal-Lecco; saxophonist Bob Sheppard; bass synthesizer Lorenzo "Larry" Dunn (of Earth, Wind & Fire fame); keyboardist Felton Pilate; horn players Andrew Lippman and John Papenbrook; and drum programmers Chris Clarke and Jon Hakakian.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of The Stanley Clarke Band is the exceptionally organic nature of its genesis - the sense of grassroots creativity that existed outside of any efforts to tailor the music to any specific segment of the market. Clarke concludes, "This is the last electric album I'm going to do for awhile. The legacy of this release is that I'm providing lots of material and homework for a new generation of bassists to catch up with. I've worked hard to give the bass a distinctive voice, and I feel so excited about where it's going."
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 15, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Heads Up
  • ASIN: B003HLT0CI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,654 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I grew up on fusion in the 70's. It was new then and I couldn't get enough of it. I love jazz as a whole but fusion is what holds my heart. I grew up on "Journey to Love", "School Days", "Rocks, Pebbles and Sand" and RTF. I am a music fiend who orders music weekly and frankly there's no more room in the house so I'm trying to curb my addiction. I was impressed with 07's "Toys of Men" but this cd brings it up a notch; this is Stanely's tribute to fusion and his role in it. It is a gift to those of us who knew fusion and an update to the idiom that invites the next generation in. Highlights are an updated Corea era "No Mystery" (which is what drew me to the CD), what would best be called a funky sequel: "I'll Play For You Too", a beautiful ballad "Here's why Tears Dry" and a great tribute simply titled "Sonny Rollins". My Impression is that Stanley has looked back on his career and decided to share with his followers what he has loved playing most by reinventing it for this cd. The cd is solid and flows; the supporting band is excellent. I found room for it in my house; you should too!
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As a bass player myself, Stanley Clarke is a mythic figure. I still remember the first time I heard the School Days album, and then went back to hear his earlier recordings. I've listened loyally even during the years when I felt he almost lost his way (remember "Time Exposure?"). Realistically, though, no artist hits it out of the ballpark every time at bat. And in the past several years, Stanley has rewarded my patience with some towering performances. "The Toys of Men" was, in my opinion, a masterpiece, as was the S.M.V. "Thunder" album. So, I was eagerly waiting to see if his latest offering would hold to the same high level of quality. If anything, he has surpassed it.

"The Stanley Clarke Band" is a virtuosic smorgasbord of old-school fusion, classical jazz, modern-day funk and introspective collaborations. Stanley's playing is fresh and inventive, and not as self-referential as previous outings.

This is a spectacular recording showing a legendary master at the absolute top of his game. Highly recommended!
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The other night I had the great pleasure to see and meet Stanley, Hiromi, Ronald Bruner Jr. and Ruslan Sirota at the Toronto Jazz Festival where they had played an astounding set of furious hard-fusion, interspersed here and there with the gentle beauty of songs from "Jazz In The Garden". There did not appear to be one person in the crowd who wasn't totally blown away!
Contrary to what I've always done in the past, I saw the band "first" before hearing the album, which I had bought only a couple of hours prior to the show. Interestingly when Rusland Sirota signed the CD cover/sleeve, he proclaimed, "So, this is what it looks like!"- he hadn't even seen it yet!
Whilst listening to it the next day, the first thing that occurred to me is that those thirty-second samples on Amazon are only the tip of the iceberg- there's much much, more going on in these songs than those samples will even begin to hint at!
One of the first things you notice, is Stanley's absolutely pristine bass sound- the strings sounding so bright and clear, yet beautifully carrying the bottom end, sounding as though he had put on a brand new set of strings for each song! Stanley and Lenny White do a great job at the production helm beginning with Ruslan Sirota's original, "Soldier", a very cool piece that occasionally shifts into high gear with one of the most interesting transitions I've heard in a long time: a "Police"-type uptempo groove with slightly distorted, yet not overbearing guitar which creates a melancholy mood that's just gorgeous, nicely setting the stage for all of the unique things about to on throughout this great album.
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Stanley Clarke's creativity on, and mastery of the bass is still as fresh as it was the day I first heard him back in 1976 as a budding bassist in my high school jazz band. Last year's Stanley Clarke Trio's "Jazz in the Garden" and this year's release serve as so much more than a walk down memory lane. They showcase one of music's most original, iconic musicians at his best. I highly recommend both CDs to fans of Jazz, Fusion, and of course, fans of excellent bass playing.
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The Stanley Clarke Band CD is a fusion masterpiece. A throw back album in some ways with songs like "I Wanna Play For You Too" and "No Mystery", because of the revisitation of that wonderful era in music. Great fusion pieces like the updated "No Mystery" and a revamped spin on a classic Return to Forever song (After the Cosmic Rain) with "How is the Weather Up There?" Two great tribute songs the first being "Larry Has Traveled 11 Miles and Waited A Lifetime For The Return Of Vishnu's Report", dedicated to Joe Zawinul of Weather Report and many other fusion groups that exploded onto the fusion scene in the 1970's. The second song being "Sonny Rollins" a nice swinging bebop groove. PS check out Stanley playing the Charles Mingus Bass. One word (SMOOTH). Other choice cuts are the moving piece "Soldier" the energetic, emotional and beautiful piece "Labyrinth" written by Hiromi, the beautiful "Bass Folk Song No.6" and the more funky and groovy "Bass Folk Song No 10." This album has a collection of wonderful pieces both from the funk genre, the fusion genre and the classic jazz genre that I think Stanley Clarke fans from all across the world will love and enjoy this CD.
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