Local Wire

Stanley Clarke

There can be little question that Stanley Clarke is one of the greatest jazz-fusion bassists alive today. He continues to make inspirational work both live and in the studio, as heard on this new disc. He opens the proceedings with the four-part suite that gives the CD its title. The amazing tour de force begins with a soft melody that builds, reaches a bass solo that's the tune's centerpiece, and ends with a crescendo that reminds the listener of The Beatles' "A Day in the Life." On the up-tempo "Come On," he goes into a funk-inspired, progressive-rock mode that showcases drummer Ronald Bruner Jr.'s chops as he keeps up with Clarke's hard-to-match bass line. He has a tender moment in "Jerusalem," a beautiful ballad that also features guitarist Michael Landau, who provides the perfect backdrop for the bandleader's improvisations. With The Toys of Men, Clarke shows that he's still one of the great players of both the electric and acoustic bass. And he's one of few musicians who can reproduce his fiery live performances in a studio format with the same freshness and creativity that his fans expect.
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Ernest Barteldes