Stanley Clarke - The Stanley Clarke Band featuring Hiromi
Unlike his previous
acoustic bass releases, Clarke feels that this album’s music is fresh
and different from just about anything he’s done before. Produced by
Clarke and Lenny White, the range of collaborative material on The Stanley Clarke Band
has allowed him to venture to new levels of experimentation, utilizing
his arsenal of bass instruments. Clarke compares this new release to the first three albums of his solo career: Journey to Love, Stanley Clarke, and School Days, with long extended electric pieces that take the listener on a kind of journey.
it’s a Stanley Clarke record, but it’s very much a band-oriented record
at the same time,” says Clarke. “I may be the leader, but everyone
played an important role in what emerged. If a project like this can be
looked at like a ship, I’d be the one steering the ship and keeping
everybody on course. But all hands were definitely on deck, and
everyone played an important role in getting us to our destination.”
a new foray for Clarke, the album includes original compositions from
members of the band. He is joined by Stanley Clarke Band keyboardist
Ruslan Sirota and drummer Ronald Bruner, Jr. – who have been performing
and recording with him for the better part of five years. Innovative
young musicians, they have virtually grown up in Clarke’s band and
bring a freshness he admires. Following 2009’s highly-acclaimed Jazz In the Garden,
this is featured artist Hiromi Uehara’s second Clarke recording
collaboration. Clarke’s rugged and complex bass work serves as the
ideal foil for her trademark fiery and expressive piano chops, as
reflected through critics’ praising it as “a superb trio effort” (Bass Player) and “one of the best jazz CDs of the year” (San Jose Mercury News).
“There are people on The Stanley Clarke Band
other than myself who have something to say,” explains Clarke.
“Everyone on this project brought their own music and their own ideas.
The styles of the individual tunes may be different, but the continuous
thread that runs through the whole record is the fact that we’re all
operating as a unit on each track.”
Hiromi is generally regarded as a solo artist, she shifts effortlessly
into a band setting, says Clarke. “She doesn’t need to be on the stage
with anybody else, because she’s a phenomenon on the piano,” he says.
“But, she likes collaborating with other musicians. She can play faster
than anybody, but she can really listen, and she’s right there with
pianist/composer/arranger Ruslan Sirota has traveled the world, playing
with some of the biggest names in classical and pop music. Born in the
Ukraine, he was exposed early in his youth to American jazz and
improvisation, and now shows an intelligence and understanding of the
genre way beyond his years. “Ruslan is becoming a recognizable force in
the music world,” Clarke notes. “He is one of the few musicians I’m
aware of that knows a thousand songs. He has a unique understanding of
the jazz language.” On this album, Sirota brings an unparalleled
contribution in piano performances, not only on keyboard but with his
profound melodic techniques on acoustic piano.
Bruner, Jr., is a second-generation drummer extraordinaire. His
earliest influence was his father, Ronald Bruner, Sr., a world class
drummer who has performed and recorded with Diana Ross, the Temptations
and Gladys Knight. Clarke feels that Bruner is probably one of the most
important young drummers on the scene today and compares his
innovation, technique and skill to that of the legendary drummer Tony
Williams. Although a dynamic fixture in Clarke’s touring band, Bruner
has also performed with George Duke, Lee Ritenour, Suicidal Tendencies,
and Wayne Shorter.