When Stanley Clarke played at the Opera House in 2008 with the late George Duke we witnessed not so much a concert as a sporting event, the players competing to be faster, louder and ever more gauche. This was frustrating, because Clarke has been capable of making real music during his long career, as he reminds us with this album.
Each piece here is a fresh adventure, from a funky blues to using choirs and string quartets to a new version of his School Days hit, with the original drummer, Gerry Hemmingway, on board, and a searing Jimmy Herring guitar solo. Other guests include Police drummer Stewart Copeland turning in a typically effervescent, top-of-the-beat performance on Up (with guitar by Joe Walsh), and Chick Corea, whose piano is one half of a gorgeous duet with Clarke’s double bass.
The leader mainly plays electric bass in a predictably fast and funky manner. His most interesting and beautiful electric work comes on some little interludes called Bass Folk Songs, including one dedicated to Charles Mingus.