Oct 14, 2014
"My aim here was to make a record with my friends. Every single recording session was nothing but fun. Surrounding myself with people I enjoy being with made the sessions effortless. Everyone came prepared and ready to play. All were great musicians and they came to the studio to give everything they had." – Stanley Clarke
The inclusion of young players in a new band a few years back gave Stanley Clarke a needed spark of creativity. Stanley Clarke Band was praised on this blog, and the CD won a Grammy® Award. Since that recording, Clarke has kept the youthful infusion of talent going, adding teenagers like pianist Beka Gochiashvili and drummer Mike Mitchell to his touring band.
Rather than release an all-new project, Clarke has led his protégés though his songbook – much of which was first written and recorded before they were born. The results, called Up can be mixed. “School Days” has nothing new to offer, even though guest Jimmy Herring (Widespread Panic, Allman Brothers Band, Jazz is Dead) lends a credible solo. “Brazilian Love Affair” serves as a moving tribute to the late George Duke, a long-time Clarke friend and collaborator, but again, opens no new ground.
Instead, it’s the melodic group of tunes called “Bass Folk Songs” and the delightful closing duet with Chick Corea of “La Cancion de Sofia” that shine on this collection. Again a revisit, the latter tune is touching in its straight forward presentation, and wonderful in its reimagination. Guest shots from stars like Herring, Joe Walsh, and Stewart Copeland are nice, but it’s when Clarke makes it personal that he is now at his finest.