Stanley Clarke at Catalina Bar & Grill, October 14, 2010 – Creating Great Music That Still Transcends and TransformsBy Kaylene Peoples | October 26th, 2010 | Category: Entertainment | No Comments »
There’s nothing like seeing a legend play live. I have seen Stanley Clarke perform a few times: The Playboy Jazz Festival in Pasadena; his home, where I actually sat in with him once; and last week at the Catalina Bar & Grill on October 14, 2010. The man does not disappoint. I watched Stanley and his band play their second show of the evening. The lineup was acoustic bass, acoustic piano, electric piano, drums, and a 5-piece horn section, which included saxophone. The band played intricately arranged songs in the genre of fusion jazz. Stanley Clarke was amazing to watch as he made his bass sing. He was phenomenal. He even pulled out the bow on one of his pieces. It was a nice change; and by the audience’s reaction, they really appreciated watching this level of skill. The core (piano, drums, keys) was very solid, and on many occasions that evening these players really showed their chops. The pianist, Ruslan Sirota, was interesting to watch as he tickled the ivory—he was lost in his own world up there on that stage. And when I say that, I really mean in HIS world. (Whatever was going through his mind that night definitely enhanced his performance.) Sirota’s playing was superb. The other keyboardist, Deron Johnson, took me back to the 60s with his look and his sound. I loved Johnson’s Rhodes. And the drummer . . . C R A Z Y! The horns added a nice touch. They were solid. (Seemed like a lot of rehearsals to me.) The performances looked effortless.
First, let’s talk about Stanley’s distinctive tone. Honestly, I could tell the sound of his bass anywhere. Second, he is so versatile. He brought out his electric on the last song just to liven things up a bit with some funk and R&B. Frankly, this show had such a high level of musicianship, virtuosity, and synchronicity, among many other things. I really felt as though I was watching a legend, and that does not happen too often. I can’t vouch for what was really going on on that stage between those musicians, but as an observer and one who appreciates great music, I hated to see his show end! October 14th from 10:00 p.m. to midnight was a meeting of musical minds. Those in the audience felt bonded for two magical hours. I, along with everyone else, was taken away.
So what makes a performance transcending? Due to the fact that Stanley Clarke not only is a master on his instrument(s), he is also a very talented arranger/composer. He’s written scores for countless films, including Emmy-nominated Pee Wee’s Playhouse, Transformers, Boys in the Hood, Higher Learning, and more.
“Film has given me the opportunity to compose large orchestral scores and to compose music not normally associated with myself. It’s given me the chance to conduct orchestras and arrange music for various types of ensembles. It’s been a diverse experience for me musically, made me a more complete musician, and utilized my skills completely.”—Stanley Clarke
By the time he was 25, Stanley was already a celebrated pioneer in fusion jazz music. He was also the first bassist in history to double on acoustic and electric bass with equal virtuosity. He also invented two instruments: the piccolo bass and the tenor bass. Let’s not forget the fact that he’s won Grammys, has platinum records, and has received countless professional honors and awards. With all of his knowledge and proficiency, as well as ingenuity, his performances can only be transcending and transforming. There IS nothing like seeing a legend play live!