Stanley Clarke: Live 1976–1977

Songs:

  1. School Days
  2. Lopsy Lu
  3. Quiet Afternoon
  4. Silly Putty
  5. Dayride
  6. Bass Folk Song No. 3
  7. The Magician
  8. Desert Song
  9. Vulcan Princess
Personnel:
  • Stanley Clarke – acoustic bass, electric bass, piccolo bass
  • Ray Gomez – electric guitar
  • John McLaughlin – acoustic guitar (on “Desert Song”)
  • Peter Robinson – keyboards (Tracks 1-5)
  • David Sancious – keyboards (Tracks 6, 8-9)
  • Gerry Brown – drums
  • Darryl Munyungo Jackson – percussion (on “Desert Song”)
  • James Tinsley – trumpet, flügelhorn, piccolo trumpet, alarm clock
  • Al Harrison – trumpet, flügelhorn, piccolo trumpet, slide whistle
  • Bob Malach – tenor saxophone, flute
  • Alfie Williams – soprano, alto, & baritone saxophones, flute

In 1979, Stanley Clarke released an epic double album called I Wanna Play For You. It was a mix of studio cuts with various guests musicians, (including Jeff Beck, Tom Scott, Freddie Hubbard, Stan Getz, and Dee Dee Bridgewater), mixed in with several live tracks recorded during Stanley’s 1976-77 tour with his band. In 1991, Epic Records revisited the tapes made during that tour and released this album. It is virtually a “Greatest Hits – Live” album, featuring some of Stanley’s best and most popular songs, recorded with one of, (if not) the best bands he ever assembled.

Clarke’s popularity was at its highest point in 1976, having released two best-selling albums in his own School Days and Return to Forever’s The Romantic Warrior. After completing the RTF tour, he took his own band out on the road. These live recordings were taken from concerts in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and London, with the exception of “Desert Song,” which is an alternate take recorded live in the studio from the School Days album.

The core of Clarke’s band was made up of  Ray Gomez on guitar, Gerry Brown on drums, and either Peter Robinson or former E-Street Band member David Sancious on keyboards. To this, a 4-piece horn section was added that gave the music extra punch and allowed Clarke’s compositions to expand and reference existing soul groups like Earth, Wind & Fire and Tower of Power. (For the next incarnation of Return to Forever, a 5-piece horn section was added and featured on the Musicmagic and Live-The Complete Concert albums. Drummer Gerry Brown and trumpet player James Tinsley were included in that version of RTF from this band.)

Guitarist Al Di Meola and drummer Lenny White, (Clarke’s rhythm section mates from RTF), may have had more dazzling technique, but the bassist never had a more complementary or musical partnership than he achieved with Gomez and Brown. The unity and interplay between the rhythm section members is dazzling and all solo extremely well.

Most of the songs come from Stanley’s previous solo releases, (Stanley Clarke, Journey to Love, and School Days). Two others, Dayride and The Magician, were recorded by Return to Forever, (although a version of Dayride also appears on Clarke’s 1978 album Modern Man.) His virtuosity and musicality are featured on the acoustic duets with David Sancious (Bass Folk Song No. 3) and guitar wizard John McLaughlin (Desert Song). The rest of the tunes are all prime examples of Clarke’s slapping, popping, funk playing, which remains unequaled to this day. One of the main stops the group made during its tour was at the 1977 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. Although an official DVD release has yet to be offered, many high quality bootleg discs have been on the market, as well as individual songs that can be seen on YouTube. (A link to one sight that sells a DVD of this concert is included below.) The videos for this show are a good companion to this CD and show what this band was capable of in performance. (Buy it here.)

Suggested Viewing:

Stanley Clarke. Live At Montreux 1977.

Suggested Reading:

Tom Mulhern. Bass Heroes.

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