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Stanley Clarke - School Days CD (album) cover

SCHOOL DAYS

Stanley Clarke

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.61 | 43 ratings

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CCVP
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Stellar personnel in an above the average album

I'm not much of a solo album man. Artists usually make their solo albums with b-sides, songs that were not good enough to fit in the albums of their main projects, etc, and the very few solo albums that I own prove that, but Stanley Clarke's School Days is surely an exception to that.

Released in the same year as the masterful Romantic Warrior, Clarke's fourth solo album School Days shows a a side of this fantastic bassis that we cannot see in Return To Forever: instead of the elaborate, multilayered and colorful music we got used to listen him play, School Days has a more plain and straightforward perspective, stripped from what some may call as excessive demostration of musicianship. Don't let the wide array of jazz stars deceive into thinking otherwise, this is very different from his other works.

If you keep that in mind, there are not may downsides to point out here. Yes, the music is simpler, there are some more popular musical outfits in many parts, specially in the closing piece Life is Just a Game and just some (and really dated) bad musical choices, also in the closing piece, but that is it. No major flaws, no big issues beyond that.

One thing that I don't really consider a flaw, but could surely be a matter of improvement, is increasing the participation of the guest musicians. There are so many talented and capable people playing here that could get so much more room or that get outshined by the bass, such as Billy Cobham's drums, believe it not, because they are only there to play the parts they are supposed to. You can only but wonder what could have happened if they were given more space.

The albums as a whole is very fun to listen to. There are, as you can obviously imagine, huge bass parts and the bass plays a proeminent role in all of the album, after all it is a solo album by a jazz bassist. The best songs, however, are those that have some more space for the other people to shine, such as the title track, School Days, the second song, Quiet Afternoon, and the fourth song, Desert Song.

Grade and Final Thoughts

Clarke's more straightforward and simpler music in his fourth solo album has hooked me for good, despite some possible improvements that i believe were possible concerning all the musicians that played here. If you like his work at Return to Forever and wish to taste a different side of his music, this would be a good place to start.

CCVP | 4/5 |

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