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Stanley Clarke - Journey To Love CD (album) cover


Stanley Clarke


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.47 | 50 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Third album from this upcoming jazz-bass master, Journey To Love is often embodied in the so-called prog-fusion trilogy, consisting of it and the album sandwiching it chronologically, but it lacks the prestige and exposure of its two companions. It's probably because it's a quieter more introverted albums, more introspective and personal than the all-out funk of School Days, and jazzier than the self-titled album preceding this release. Having found a winning formula with the previous s/t album, Stanley repeats the electric Ladyland & Ken Scott combination and again scores high points, but the adjunction of Jeff Beck, George Duke, Steve Gadd (originally thought for RTF's drum stool) and the then- relatively unknown David Sancious (on guitar rather than keyboards, if you please), on the main body of the album are also scores quite a bit of points as well. Aside from the returning appearances of RTF members Lenny White and Chick Corea, half of the horn section in the s/t album returns as well.

Opening on the horn-laden funky Silly Putty, the album gets in the future School Days and Beck's Wired mood, with an over-virtuosity feel as a bonus, but the track is a killer. The slow-starting title track is the only sung track and features a Beck guitar solo is a stark contrast, especially with Duke's Minimoog and ARP layers. The progheads will pay close attention to the self-explanatory hello Jeff track, one that could easily find its way onto Wired or Blow or the Live albums. Close to the quality of a Freeway Jam.

The two Song To John Coltrane (spread over the two sides of the album) are definitely the jazz heart of the album, but refer more to the 50's part of Trane's career, despite the ECM feel and it is not that strongly reminiscent especially that Chick's piano doesn't resemble at all McCoy's, and McL's guitar doesn't fill his John alter-ego's sax, but it's more of a tribute than a Trane track cover. Obviously the four-movement 14-mins TL suite is the other heart of the album, and the one where the proghead's attentions are instantly fixed upon. It's quite a departure from the rest of the album (except maybe from the title track) with its soft semi-symphonic first movement, but it's to allow a stark contrast with the strong fusion second part, where Sancious' fiery guitar parts answer Duke's synth lines, and Clarke's impetuous and imperial bass rages on over ARP synth layers and soft chanting vocals (un- credited on the CD) and the third part is more of the same but with wild horn arrangements and bells. Impressive stuff. The bells allow a smooth transition to the soft and fading finale

This rather good album suffers from a lack of intelligent track distribution or sequencing, thus making it a bit of a pot-pourri, instead of having at least one strong flipside and a miscellaneous one, but I guess industry workers have a different outlook than the listeners have. I suggest you start with Stan's first two solo albums, not forgetting the COF release so often overlooked, before moving forward chronologically.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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