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Journey to Love

Stanley Clarke

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Album Review

It has often been said that Stanley Clarke did for the fretted electric bass in the 1970s what fellow virtuoso Jaco Pastorius did for the fretless. For any aspiring jazz-rock bassist coming up in the time between Bitches Brew and Feels So Good, Stanley's innovative playing, which combined a distinctive slap-pop style with fluid finger-style work informed by his acoustic playing, was a required assignment. Although School Days, with its catchy signature song, is perhaps the most listened to of his albums, it is on Journey to Love, Clarke's second solo offering for Columbia, that his muse is most confidently and persuasively displayed. He is assisted in this worthy endeavor by a whole carload of world-class talent. Jeff Beck shows up for two songs, the title track and the appropriately-titled "Hello Jeff." His lead guitar is as expressive and unpredictable as ever, capable of bringing a smile to the face of the most jaded listener. Return to Forever bandmates Chick Corea and Lenny White also turn up, as well as fellow traveler Mahavishnu John McLaughlin. Not to be overlooked are the tremendous talents of keyboardist George Duke, drummer Steve Gadd, and guitarist David Sancious. The caliber of the musicians aside, Journey of Love is full of great tunes, great grooves, and absolutely amazing bass playing. Clarke moves from percussive slapping to almost guitaristic chording to full-speed improvising with bewildering ease. Make no mistake about it, this is one of the finest fusion albums to come out of the 1970s, and it is the single best demonstration of the skills and the sound that make Clarke one of the most important figures to ever pick up the instrument.

Biography

Born: 30 June 1951 in Philadelphia, PA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A brilliant player on both acoustic and electric basses, Stanley Clarke has spent much of his career outside of jazz, although he has the ability to play jazz with the very best. He played accordion as a youth, switching to violin and cello before settling on bass. He worked with R&B and rock bands in high school, but after moving to New York he worked with Pharoah Sanders in the early '70s. Other early gigs were with Gil Evans, Mel Lewis, Horace Silver, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, and Art Blakey;...
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