Jun 30, 2018
When we talk about the top jazz drummers of the past fifty years, particularly in the area of jazz-funk and fusion, the short list of real greats has to include Mike Clark. Already a veteran jazz drummer by the time Herbie Hancock picked him for his immortal Headhunters band, Clark wrote the book on jazz-funk, and went on to play in almost all genres of jazz, blues and funk. His credits range from Hancock, Vince Guaraldi, Woody Shaw, Albert King, Eddie and Joe Henderson and Larry Coryell to Christian McBride, John Scofield, Nicholas Payton, and Donald Harrison. With the Headhunters, he recorded “God Made Me Funky”, a classic slice of jazz-funk that has one of the most sampled drum breaks in history.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Clark is still going strong. He has been part of the Grant Green Tribute Band fronted by the guitar legend’s son Grant Jr; and he is recording with his groups the Wolff & Clark Expedition and Venture, as well as part of Eddie Henderson’s group on Be Cool. His album with longtime friend Delbert Bump, Retro Report, is an organ trio CD that shows he has barely missed a beat behind the kit, even as he approaches the age of 72.
Retro Report is a real treat not only for Clark fans, but for fans of the Hammond Organ sound. Delbert Bump is an underrated master of the B-3, and with young gun Elias Lucero on guitar, the trio covers both classic tunes and originals with verve, grit and – dare we say it – funk. Saxophonist Rob Dixon drops in on the classic “Honky Tonk” and Vince Denham lends tenor and soprano sax support for “More Chicken.”
Podcast 643 is my talk with Mike, as we discuss the making of Retro Report as well as his time with Hancock, Guaraldi and more. Musical selections from Retro Report include “Chicken”, “Alice in Wonderland”, and “Well You Needn’t” as well as “Spank-A-Lee” from Herbie Hancock’s Thrust, and “Funk Loft” from Eddie Henderson’s Be Cool.