Concert Review: Stanley Clarke Band (w/Hiromi Uehara) @ Keswick in Philly (6/21/2010)

Concert Review: Stanley Clarke Band (w/Hiromi Uehara) @ Keswick in Philly (6/21/2010)Stanley Clarke Band (w/Hiromi Uehara) @ Keswick in Philly

In the dictionary (online of course), next to the word "concert" they should have a recording of this show playing. This show is the reason we all started going to concerts in the first place. (we go in order to have our minds blown by some amazing sh*t & to leave the venue mumbling to ourselves)

Last night at the Keswick Theater in Philly, the Stanley Clarke Band w/ Stanley Clarke (Bass), Hiromi Uehara (Piano), Ruslan Sirota (keyboardist), Ronald Bruner Jr (drummer) absolutely DESTROYED the Keswick.

Everyone here knows that Return To Forever (Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea, Lenny White, Al DiMeola) was/is one of my favorite groups of all time. I saw them perform live many times, when they were at their peak, back in the 1970's. Hell my email address ("earthjuice") is taken from the name of a Return To Forever song.

Last night's show made me forget that a group called "Return To Forever" had ever even existed. Going to se the Stanley Clarke Band is like going to see Return To Forever on steroids (or something, maybe "space dust.")

Musically it was something like seeing Return To Forever (acoustic/electric virtuoso instrumental playing.)

(only better)

Of course Stanley completely OWNS both the electric bass and the acoustic bass. We have had many arguments over the years about who is better; Larry Graham, Victor Wooten, Marcus Miller, Michael Henderson, James Jamerson, Bootsy Collins, Paul McCartney, etc. Maybe it doesn't matter who is better? Maybe it does? However the reality is that after seeing SMV (Stanley Clarke, Victor Wooten & Marcus Miller), it is quite clear who is the best. Please let us not ever have THIS discussion again. Last night Stanley proved it once again (not that he has to) on BOTH electric & acoustic, in a manner that simply can not be described in words.

Watching/hearing virtuoso pianist Hiromi Uehara was like watching/hearing Van Clyburn or Liberace invaded by the spirit of Jerry Lee Lewis/Little Richard inside of the body of a tiny Japanese woman. This tiny woman doesn't just play the piano, she physically attacks it. This woman not only plays like a virtuoso she is entertaining in a way that I have never seen a so called "jazz pianist" before. It's no wonder that she is "featured."

There were points in time during the show when drummer Ronald Bruner Jr sounded like Art Blakely (1962), Buddy Rich (1941), Billy Cobham (1972), Tony Williams (1966). In other words Ronald Bruner Jr will give you the entire history of Jazz drumming during a single concert.

Meanwhile Ruslan Sirota on electric keyboards sounds like Chick Corea on his BEST DAYS.

I didn't know a single song that they played.
It didn't matter...
This was one of the best shows that I have ever attended.
I left the theater literally talking to myself.

All I can really say is that if you are a person who dug "Return To Forever".....


--Bob Davis

Album Review: Stanley Clarke - "The Toys of Men"

Album Review: Stanley Clarke - The Toys of MenIn the 1970's the group "Return to Forever" (Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White & Al DiMeola) was one of the best of the so called "fusion bands" to emerge in the wake of the success of the Miles Davis Band. Their music ranged from the melodic/romantic/jazzy/slightly latin vibe of South America to the other extreme as possibly the closest thing to "heavy metal" that Black music has seen or heard since. Later in the decade Stanley went solo and had several albums which were actually radio hits (ex: "School Days"). Then he teamed up with keyboard master George Duke for a series of hit albums that such great MONSTER FUNK COVERS of "Mothership Connection" and "Louie Louie". This is how the legend of Stanley Clarke was first established.

The Heads Up record label is primarily known for producing highly successful "smooth jazz" recordings of varying quality. As such over the past few years it has become something of a "way station" for many jazz & soul artists with "big names", who usually end up producing "commercially successful smooth jazz recordings of varying quality."

However, I must make note that in the year 2007 someone must have dropped a "couple of tabs of acid" into the coffee machine at the Heads Up Record Company because in the year 2007 they have been sho nuff been providing me a serious flashback to the 1970's.

From the previously reviewed DVD "Stanley Clarke & Friends: Night School" to the late Joe Zawinul's "Brown Street", the new one from Candy Dulfer ("Candy Store") and now Stanley Clarke's latest album "The Toys of Men", the Heads Up record company is going from one extreme to the other. Instead of providing music that literally will put you to sleep, they are now incorporating music that is designed to make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

Do you need a serious injection of creative & innovative JAZZ-FUNK music into your life? Would you like the experience of listening to an album straight thru and smiling on every cut?

There are several songs on this album which will make people who were fans of "Return To Forever" break out into a big smile.

There are several songs on this album which will make those who were fans of the Stanley Clarke hit making solo albums of the 1970's smile.

There are several songs on this album which will make people who were fans of his collaborations with George Duke in the 1970's smile.

There are several songs on this album which will make people who are fans of the "virtuosity" of Stanley Clarke's "outta space bass" smile.

The whole album made me smile the whole way thru.

(Although I have to admit that my favorites are the first two cuts, which are so "cold blooded" that they sound like they could be placed on the 1974 Return to Forever classic "No Mystery")

1. The Toys Of Men
2. Cosmic Intervention
3. Jerusalem
4. Back In the Woods
5. All Over Again
6. Hmm Hmm
7. Bad Asses
8. Game
9. La Cancion De Sofia
10. El Bajo Negro
11. Broski
12. Chateauvallon 1972 (Dedicated To Tony Williams)
13. Bass Folk Song No. 6

--Did you ever at any point in your life dig Stanley Clarke? (then don't even think twice about this one)

--Are you too young to ever have experienced the thrill of ripping off the plastic of an LP, dropping the tone arm & needle directly on to the groove of an album where Stanley Clarke is one of the featured players at 3am inside of an incense filled room, and don't understand what the big deal is? (then don't even think twice about this one)

--There is little doubt in my mind that this album will make's list of best jazz albums of the year. My hope is that it brings the genius of Stanley Clarke to a new generation of listeners.

And BIG UP'S to the HEADS UP record company "from someone who is old enough to remember when...", I certainly hope that they continue to produce albums that are this good.

DVD Review - Stanley Clarke & Friends: Night School

DVD Review - Stanley Clarke & Friends: Night SchoolIt's almost unfair for me to even possibly think that I could possibly provide a fair and unbiased review of this DVD. How could you expect a person who named himself after the song "earthjuice" to possibly be "unbiased" when it comes to Stanley Clarke? Of course I like it....

This is not a DVD for the casual fan, or is it?

What I find most interesting here is that the overall format of this program has much in common with attending a "Victa" show, right down to having a whole gaggle of bass players on the stage at the same time for the finale, which of course is Stanley's big hit record from the 1970's "School Days". On this DVD you get a complete survey of Black music styles (Blues, Gospel, Big Band, Rock, Jazz, Funk, Soul, etc.) all in one package, what's not to like?

What's not to like? Look at the list of "friends" that Stanley is bringing to the table here...

Stanley Clarke: double bass, electric bass; Paul Jackson, Jr., Michael Thompson: guitar; Karen Briggs: violin; Bela Fleck: banjo; Benny Maupin, Glenn Berger, Doug Webb: saxophone; Wallace Roney, Bob Summers, Mike McGuffey: trumpet; Reggie Young: trombone; Stewart Hamm, Jimmy Johnson, Marcus Miller, Armand Sabal-Lecco, Billy Sheehan, Wayman Tisdale, Flea, Alex Al, Brian Bromberg, Bunny Brunel: bass; Ndugu Chancler, Stewart Copeland, Gerry Brown, Rayford Griffin, Lenny White: drums; Sheila E.: drums, timbales; Patrice Rushen, Rodney Franklin, Mark Stephens, Nick Smith: keyboards; Stevie Wonder: keyboards, vocals; others (orchestra); Sinbad: master of ceremonies.

Obviously this event wasn't for the "casual musician" either. For example there is of course the inevitable "duel" between Stanley and the assemblage of world class bass players on the scene. Each one issues a friendly challenge to Stanley and it's all cool & everything. However when it's "Flea's" (from RHCP) turn, honestly he looked like he wanted to pee in his It was the same look that I saw in Eric Clapton's face once when he had to square off against Albert King. Even with that being said, I give Flea credit for being there to attend Stanley Clarke's "night school".

Are you the type of person who really digs that thang called JAZZ-FUNK"???? Then you will go nuts (as I did) over the song entitled "The Big Jam". On "The Big Jam" you have multiple drummers a' la the JB's (including Sheila E.) + Horn section + violinist Karen Briggs and more. This aggregation sounds like Mahavishnu Orchestra meets Noel Pointer meets Return To Forever meets Prince meets RHCP.

The highlight of this DVD for me was the all too short two song set starting with acoustic rendition of "Everyday I sing the Blues" and then John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" featuring Stanley, violinist Karen Briggs and Stevie Wonder on piano. This two song set (really a short medley lasting about 3 min.) would make a fantastic full blown concert unto itself, if it could ever happen!

The only thing I didn't like about this DVD is that the performances all seem to be quite abbreviated. I wished that I could have seen the whole concert as a complete and uninterrupted suite of music. Even at 67 minutes, its waaaay too short

If you dig this kind of music, featuring true artists that make even a great "rock star" like "Flea" become humble in their presence, then you will love this DVD. And yes even if you are a casual fan, then you need to own this DVD, so that you can see & hear a "slice of life" from some of the greatest pure musicians of their generation in their natural habitat.

Then you will understand what all of the fuss is about...

My Notes From Last Night's Stanley Clarke Interview

DVD Review - Stanley Clarke & Friends: Night SchoolLast night I had the chance to participate in an interview with the LEGENDARY bass player, STANLEY CLARKE. Here are a few of my notes...

(btw...if you are in the Philly area on Monday July 30, you can see Stanley Clarke and his band perform for free tonight at 8pm, in Wiggins Park in lovely Camden, NJ on the banks of the beautiful Delaware River, with the skyline of the city of Philadelphia in the background. I'll be there tonight so if you see me, I'll be easy to spot. I'll be the guy passing out flyers for the SOUL-PATROL CONVENTION on July 19 2003)


"Al, Lenny, and I are all for it, Chick needs to be convinced."
"You guys should bombard Chick via email and tell him this is something that everybody wants"
"A reformed RTF, along with a reformed Mahavishnu Orchastra & Miles Davis Band (Children On The Corner) could sell out large arenas, if they went on TOUR TODAY..."


He is my favorite artist to work with. If someone told me tomorrow that I had to go on a six month tour or something terrible would happen, then my choice would be to go on that tour with George Duke. George Duke is a person who makes everything that he does fun.


"The song School Days was written in about 10 minutes. It's a song about the fun I enjoyed while I was going to school in Philadelphia"
"The album cover from School Days (1974) may be the first hip hop influenced album cover of all time, take note of the graffiti writing on the cover"


"Larry Graham invented the SLAP BASS style of playing long before I started doing it"
"A promoter in Japan once put up a huge amount of money for Larry and I to engage in a kind of DUELING BASS competition. We did it in front of a crowd of around 20,000 people. The set up went something like this...

* Me and my bass plugged into a humongous stack of amplifiers on one side
* Larry and his bass plugged into a humongous stack of amplifies on the other side
* A drummer in the middle


"On the LP where George Duke and I do a cover version of the song Louie Louie (the same LP where they also do that SLAMMIN VERSION of MOTHERSHIP CONNECTION) there is also a cover version of the classic song "LOUIE LOUIE".
It was George Duke's idea to put that song on the record, and we had one hell of a time trying to figure out what the lyrics Years later I got a chance to meet Richard Berry (the man who wrote the song) and talk with him. When I look back at it and think about the fact that Richard Berry, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and others who actually invented Rock n' Roll, NEVER REALLY GOT PAID, I think about how fortunate I have been

We started out by playing a munch of Larry/Sly songs and then rolled into a bunch of my songs.
It was less of a competition that it was more of each one of us honoring each other.
There are tapes of this "floating around, you should try and get one...."
"you can have one for about $100" (the room starts cracking up)



Of course there is more...

(however I have run out of time and space for the moment....)


Stanley Clarke's got a new CD out and I think that it's a GOD DAMMED SHAME that the two Philadelphia KNEE-GRO radio stations that SHOULD BE PLAYING HIS NEW CD:

* WJJZ - Smooth (soulless) Jazz
* WDAS - Adult Colored People Radio

Imagine that?

* One of the GREATEST musicians of ALL TIME
* The man whose name ALWAYS comes up, when people talk about a "dream band"
* The man whose artistry on the bass changed the way we listen to jazz



NP: "A Change Is Gonna Come"
--Sam Cooke

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