Stanley Clarke’s funky bass

The Grammy-award winning jazz veteran wowed the Tel Aviv crowd with his lighting fast chops on both electric and upright bass during the funky, groovy, performance.

Stanley Clarke (photo credit: Courtesy)
Stanley Clarke
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Few knew the name Stanley Clarke at my high school, but at football games the song “Black on Black,” as we called it, was a favorite. The pep band and marching band performed their version of Clarke’s hip-hop-tinged cut with a throbbing bass line and funky pulsating beat. I remember one football player saying it made him run faster.
That led me to seek out Clarke’s other work, which is firmly in the jazz world branching off into jazz fusion with some R&B slow jams.
Worlds away from an American high school football field, on the shores of the Mediterranean, Clarke energized the audience at the Reading 3 concert venue Monday night.
The 68-year-old American bassist performed instrumental works from his 40-plus-year repertoire, including his time in Chick Corea’s band Return to Forever, for which he earned his first of several Grammy Awards.
Alternating on electric and upright bass, Clarke’s hands worked their way up and down to produce sounds that at times were classical and at times funky. A monster blues riff got the crowd clapping in unison, and the show-closer, an instrumental version of his hit “Oh Oh” with George Duke had the audience on their feet singing “Oh oh, hey hey.”
But Clarke’s bass virtuosity was not the only thing on display. The jazz veteran let his younger band members shine. Evan Garr, a violinist from Detroit, is the latest addition to the band. Twenty-three-year-old Beka Gochiashvili, from Tbilisi, Georgia, radiated on piano. Los Angeles-based music producer and musician Cameron Graves played groovy melodies on keyboards and synthesizers. Shariq Tucker from the Bronx went crazy on the drums, performing several bombastic solos. “The spirit of every band lies with the drummer, for better or worse,” Clarke told the audience.
He gave a chance for each young performer to demonstrate their lightning quick chops. Without words, the instruments conversed, replying to each other’s notes and displaying their musical mastery as the crowd spontaneously clapped along to the rhythm.
“This is my favorite kind of audience,” Clarke told the crowd in Tel Aviv as the show ended. “The kind with spirit and soul.”