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Stanley Clarke - Stanley Clarke CD (album) cover

STANLEY CLARKE

Stanley Clarke

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.81 | 53 ratings

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The Quiet One
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Return to Forever featuring... Jan Hammer

Stanley Clarke's sophomore effort can be considered as a spin-off of Return to Forever's 1973-74 period. It's still not the highly technical prog-esque fusion of Romantic Warrior; this album stays within the more groovy style of Where Have I Known You Before though not as polished nor as exciting.

Oddly enough, Al Di Meola is not on board, while Bill Connors, who had left Return to Forever after recording Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy, is here instead, showing what he could have done with RtF if he had stayed a bit longer. Also, there's Jan Hammer on the keyboards, always a pleasure to listen to his unique Moog in a fusion record. On the drums there's the long time Davis partner, Tony Williams, doing a great job "replacing" Lenny White. In addition to the "classic" Return to Forever line-up (keys, drums, guitar and bass), there's Airto Moreira once again who had played drums on the first two RtF albums, here he's adding some percussion, and then there's some occasional brass and strings, a new feature to the "Return to Forever fusion sound".

The album opens itself decently with a remake of 'Vulcan Worlds', the great opener of Return to Forever's fourth album. This time it's called 'Vulcan Princess' and it's even funkier with Stanley's slapping. The following tune entitled 'Yesterday Princess' is a gentle piano/upright bass-led song, it's a song because Stanley sings. It's a nice short tune.

'Lopsy Lu' and 'Power' are two instrumentals where the whole potential of the quartet is shown; groovy and fast bass lines, distorted guitar solos, relentless drumming and funky Moog fills.

Like almost every album by a solo musician, the musician gives himself a space to demonstrate his skills. This is the case of 'Spanish Phases for Strings & Bass' where Stanley picks up the upright bass and is accompanied by some strings. It's a rather forgettable tune, unless you're a big fan of the upright bass.

The album finishes with an almost 14 minute suite called 'Life'. Though not brilliant or as exciting as 'Song for the Pharoah Kings', this suite is still an enjoyable piece of fusion with excellent bass playing, catchy hooks and great performances from the rest of the members, but really as a whole it seems average, nothing thrills you that much.

So Stanley Clarke's self-titled album is indeed a must-have for Return to Forever fans for it displaying RtF- like compositions but with other musicians and with an emphasize on the bass. However, I wouldn't call this excellent because the compositions aren't that great nor anything really fresh, though this is not generic jazz funk as there would later be, the execution of the ideas here are not great.

3 stars: recommended to the funk-fusion fan and to the Return to Forever fan, of course.

The Quiet One | 3/5 |

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