I never knew much about Stanley Clarke, other than the name and that he held some kind of luminary status for bassists. He's kind of entered my consciousness lately and so I've been given him a whirl. I have to admit that I have a really hard time with jazz fusion or acid jazz or progressive jazz or jazz rock and think (in my limited knowledge) that it had a window of about '68-'76 where that stuff was relevant. Pretty much anything after that either jumps the shark or is just a shadow of that fertile period. And I've always had a bad taste in my mouth for flaunted virtuosity. Anyway, that said, there's just a small sliver of Clarke's catalog that I can stomach, but I'm here to say, Jesus Christ. This is some wild and fun shit! I know this is going to sound ridiculous to anyone who has ever heard Stanley Clarke, but that guy is so good at playing the bass guitar! Whoa!
My absolute favorite jam I've found of his is "Silly Putty" from the record A Journey to Love. I listened to that song while walking in the city during the 15 minutes of nice weather we had this spring and felt like the coolest motherfucker. That constant 16th note thump from the bass, the clavinet and ARP twiddling about. Not to mention that cucumber beat.
Check out the album cut:
So. Funky. Now listen to the bonkers live version from the Live 76-77 record, which has literally my least favorite kind of drum sound in the world but it's worth listening to for the solo at around 3:30. I can not believe that that man is just doing that with his hands:
And finally, a short clip from sometime obviously in the 70's of Clarke and drummer Steve Gadd just fucking around on the main riff of "Silly Putty". Just a couple of bananas jazz cats giving each other the business. Really fun: