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I Wanna Play for You

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Album Review

Stanley Clarke stretches his muscles and comes up with a mostly impressive, polystylistic, star-studded double album (now on one CD) that gravitates ever closer to the R&B mainstream. Clarke's writing remains strong and his tastes remain unpredictable, veering into rock, electronic music, acoustic jazz, even reggae in tandem with British rocker Jeff Beck. Clarke's excursion into disco, "Just a Feeling," is surprisingly and infectiously successful, thanks to a good bridge and George Duke's galvanizingly funky work on the Yamaha electric grand piano (his finest moment with Clarke by far). The brief "Blues for Mingus," a wry salute from one master bassist to another (Mingus died about six months before this album's release), is a cool acoustic breather for piano trio, and the eloquent Stan Getz can be detected, though nearly buried under the garish vocals and rock-style mix, on "The Streets of Philadelphia." Yet even the talented Clarke in full creative flower couldn't quite fill a double set with new material, so he has a tendency to reprise some of his old memorable riffs a lot, and there are several energetic snapshots of his live band in action. In its zeal to get this two-LP set onto one disc, Epic deleted three of the original 15 tracks — including at least one gem, the sizzling hard rocker "All About" — and scrambled the order of the remaining tunes. Which is dumb, because the missing tracks only take up a bit less than 12 minutes of playing time, not enough to overload a 65-minute disc. Hunt for the double-LP version if you can still play vinyl. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi

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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