Bassist Stanley Clarke and keyboardist George Duke have each enjoyed accomplished careers within the traditional jazz genre, but it's arguable that they are better known for their work outside jazz, together as a duo. The two first joined forces in the 1980s to produce three funk albums, the first yielding the pop radio crossover hit "Sweet Baby." Performing together periodically ever since, the two perform a show in Tel Aviv Monday night as part of their current European tour.
An acclaimed player on the acoustic as well as the electric bass, Clarke has performed professionally since the late Sixties, jamming with the likes of Pharaoh Sanders, Gil Evans, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Art Blake and Chick Corea. He has played his fair share of funk and rock, and has produced numerous scores for films.
Similarly straying from his early jazz routes, Duke began his career as a jazz pianist and keyboardist, performing with the likes of Cannonball Adderley, Sonny Rollins and drummer Billy Cobham. He has also been a part of Frank Zappa's progressive wierdo-rock groups in the mid Seventies, and since then has played mostly R&B, as well as producing albums for well-known R&B/pop artists such as Smokey Robinson, Anita Baker, Gladys Knight and even The Cure.
When Clarke and Duke teamed up in 1981 to create The Clarke/Duke Project Vol. 1, expectations were high based on the two's previous work. Yet despite "Sweet Baby," which peaked at number six on the Billboard R&B charts, Vol. 1 showed that the two were struggling to play to their strengths in the studio. The two joined forces again a few years later to produce Vol. 2 and again in 1988 for the Project album, yet the live arena has proven to be the most appropriate avenue for the jazz-funkmasters.
The current incarnation of Clarke and Duke's band - which features Ron Brunner on drums and Phil Davis on synths - looks to bring out the raw emotion of funk.
The Clarke/Duke Project Tour plays at the Tel Aviv port, at Hangar 11, this Monday. Doors open at 8:30 p.m., and tickets, which range from NIS 179 to NIS 279, can be purchased by calling (03) 604-5000.