Monday, January 30, 2012

Favorite Albums: Modern Man by Stanley Clarke

In the 1970’s, as a young aspiring bassist, my hero was Stanley Clarke. This young man sporting an Afro had a flashy, virtuoso style of playing both the upright and electric bass. He was also an accomplished songwriter and he pushed the boundaries of jazz, being one of the pioneers of jazz-rock fusion.

I see parallels in his career and that of Esperanza Spalding in recent years- they both were young African-American musicians in their mid-twenties when the came on the scene, known for being virtuosos on the bass and for their clever, genre-defying song-writing. They have both brought jazz to a wider audience.

All of Stanley Clarke’s 1970’s albums are great, in my view. Probably Journey to Love is his best. But Modern Man is a personal favorite of mine. It combines jazz with rock and funk, and displays Clarke’s funky virtuosity in brilliant form.

The key track on the album is Rock and Roll Jelly, which was performed with guitarist Jeff Beck, an exhilarating jazz-rock fusion song. On it Clarke plays chords and speedy solos on his trade-mark Alembic bass.

This is the kind of album that makes one want to play bass, and be in a band.  It is one of my favorites.

Stanley, now 60, is still the exciting bassist and musician he was back in the 70's. His most recent CD, the Stanley Clarke Band, won a 2011 Grammy for Best Jazz Album. I am sure he will give us much more great music and playing for years to come!

Modern Man Track Listing

All tracks composed by Stanley Clarke, except where noted.
Side one
1."Opening (Statement)" – 4:22
2."He Lives On (Story About the Last Journey of a Warrior)" – 4:24
3."More Hot Fun" – 4:31
4."Slow Dance" – 3:16
5."Interlude: A Serious Occasion" – 0:21
6."Got to Find My Own Place" (Clarke, Michael Garson, Raymond Gomez, Gerry Brown) – 3:17

Side two
1."Dayride" – 4:06
2."Interlude: It's What She Didn't Say" – 1:24
3."Modern Man" – 3:31
4."Interlude: A Relaxed Occasion" – 1:24
5."Rock 'n Roll Jelly" – 5:07
6."Closing (Statement)" – 2:37

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