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Stanley Clarke - Stanley Clarke, Al Di Meola & Jean-Luc Ponty: The Rite of Strings CD (album) cover


Stanley Clarke


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.98 | 32 ratings

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5 stars One of the most beautiful jazz fusion collaborations I've ever heard. What makes this 1995 studio album so special is that it is an all-acoustic trio. Without drums. So unusual in the jazz idiom. To me on a par with Miles' Kind of Blue and the three record albums from Bill Evans, Scott La Faro and Paul Motian's Village Vangard sessions. Still better is 1994's Live at Montreux DVD from the trio plus keyboard artist, Monte Alexander, which prompted the trio to record a studio album together before going off on their own paths. Stanley Clarke is jaw-dropping amazing.

1. "Indigo" (7:15) one of Al's compositions, from his 1993 release World Symphonia - Heart of the Immigrants. Great stuff! Should/could be a top three song? but there are others! (14.5/15)

2. "Renaissance" (4:32) a classic Jean-Luc Ponty song previously introduced to the world on 1976's Aurora album-- before Jean-Luc had become a household name. Hear performed so beautifully with Al and Jean-Luc really shining as Stanley keeps immaculate time. A top three song for me--mostly for the beautiful melody and rhythm structure. (10/10)

3. "Song to John" (6:00) originally composed by Stanley with Chick Corea back in 1975 for Stanley's Journey to Love album. It was originally composed for John McLaughlin and his "new" scalloped guitar that he was using for his Shakti albums and performances. Al's Django Reinhardt treatment of the supporting strumming is incredible--as is his MIDIed lead. Then Stanley gets his say in an incredible solo in the second half. These guys aren't old: they're in their prime! The original is incredible--with lots of space for feeling the power, but this new, amped up version is just as great in its own way. (9.5/10)

4. "Chilean Pipe Song" (6:12) another Al song (he was really, really into Latin American music in the 1980s), Jean-Luc, and especially Stanley add so much. (9/10)

5. "Topanga" (5:50) a Stanley composition--perhaps written or offered just for these sessions as I can find no previous record of it ever being recorded. Man does Stanley's bowed bass dig deep into the heart strings! Great support and contributions to The Man from Al and Jean-Luc. A top three for me. (10/10)

6. "Morocco" (5:45) Al's third and final contribution to the trio--from his 1991 studio release, Kiss My Axe. Gorgeous textures and soli with not enough of a core to distinguish it much from any other jazz jam. But, damn, the performances are fine! (8.75/10)

7. "Change of Life" (5:30) the second Jean-Luc contribution, another song that I can find no previous record of so could very well have been offered to the trio for this and only this recording. A nice pastoral romp through the country side--on a horse-drawn, open air carriage. Such a smooth, relaxing song--with such amazingly dextrous, finesse-filled performances. Such a privilege! For sure a top three song! (9.75/10)

8. "La Cancion de Sofia" (8:30) the third Stanley contribution, this one from Slow and almost plodding, the spaciousness gives lots of room for flourishes and incidentals. Then, at near the halfway poiont, we have a stop and reset: a fast-paced race with the Devil ensues. Again, we're in the territory of such hallowed giants as Stéphane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt. An odd song but, again, we are so privileged to be in the company of these virtuosi! (17.5/20)

9. "Memory Canyon" (6:00) Jean-Luc Ponty's final contribution to the trio, another song whose lack of history leads me to beleive that it was a song Jean-Luc gifted to his pals specifically for this recording. (8.5/10)

A/five stars; a certifiable, undisputable masterpiece of virtuosic Jazz-Rock Fusion and definitely an album that belongs in every prog lover's music collection! Easily my Album of the Year for 1995.

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |


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