Does it get any "better" than Stanley Clarke?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by alfoders, Dec 4, 2016.

  1. alfoders


    Nov 14, 2012
    Orlando, FL
    Look...I know this topic is strictly subjective, (and probably controversial) but I just saw the Stanley Clarke Band last night and it really rocked!

    He played for over 2 hours straight - 2/3 on upright (bowed on 2 songs), 1/3 electric. His band was young (20, 22 & ~30) and were incredibly talented. But, I was most impressed by the technique and originality of Clarke's playing.

    I have seen or heard most "world class" bassists but I really don't see how it can get any better than Stanley Clarke.

    I guess my question is this: Is there a level of talent on the bass higher than Stanley Clarke?

    I'd like to hear what other music lovers/players think.

    Your thoughts, please!
  2. Doner Designs

    Doner Designs Steve Doner Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2012
    Metro Chicago Area
    Doner Designs is an alias for Steve Doner
    There are lots of pros out there who are just as good for all practical purposes. I think it's a matter of who's style you like better.

    Victor Wooten, Victor Bailey, Gary Willis, Jeff Berlin, Alain Caron - just a few others off the top of my head. I like Willis and Caron best, but it has nothing to do with a difference in chops vs the others.
    fusionguy likes this.
  3. jazzyvee


    Aug 11, 2012
    United Kingdom
    I've seen Stanley a good few times live when he has visited the UK and in the States with his own band and Return To Forever. He is no doubt an extremely talented bass player, one of the most influential players and is one of my favourite musicians on any instrument. That said when you get into the realms of players in the top league it becomes pointless to try to pitch one against the other based on their ability because they all have their own styles and ways of playing their instrument, they are the best at being themselves and they have a sound that some prefer to others. In terms of world class bass players my favourite players are Aston "Family Man" Barrett & Stanley Clarke that does not mean I think they are the best bass players.
    IconBasser likes this.
  4. alack


    Nov 20, 2000
    The thing that sets Stanley apart is that he, along with Jaco, was there at the dawn of the jazz/rock/fusion age that brought the bass out of the background and established it as a solo instrument. His use of chords and slap expanded the jazz bassist vocabulary. One could argue that technically better players have emerged since. But they would all admit they stand upon Stanley's shoulders. Oh, and don't forget he's also a gifted upright player.
    jazzyvee, Jhengsman and alfoders like this.
  5. I saw Stanley's band at the 2015 North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam. He came out with a burl faced Alembic strapped on, said to the audience "do you mind if we warm up a bit?", then ripped into this....

    Mike Mitchell and Stanley were locked together....immense!

    I had a seat a couple of rows back from the camera guys (who get cleared after 10 minutes) and managed to get to the front for the 'School Days' encore...
    IconBasser, Qlanq and jazzyvee like this.
  6. jthisdell


    Jun 12, 2014
    Roanoke, VA
    I saw him with Return to Forever on the Romantic Warrior tour and then solo on the School Days tour. Both time fabulous and yes, he and Jaco really combined to change/expand the instrument in the late 70's.

    A record that has really stood the test of time (for me at least) is Return to Forever Where have I Known You Before w/Stanley. One of the best of the fusion era.
    jazzyvee likes this.
  7. jazzyvee


    Aug 11, 2012
    United Kingdom
    I saw him play this to open his set at the Love Supreme Festival in England earlier this year. It was incredible!!!!!
  8. bass12

    bass12 Blistering barnacles! Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    There are a lot of ways to be talented in music. SC definitely has a number of them covered nicely. I'm not one to think too much in terms of "best" though. There are some technically brilliant players who leave me cold and some less than technically brilliant players who move me. Thankfully we have a lot to choose from and don"t need to rely on any system of hierarchy when it comes to listening to what we like.
    MonetBass likes this.
  9. alfoders


    Nov 14, 2012
    Orlando, FL
    That the same band he had when I saw him on Saturday. The drummer (who goes by "Black Dynamite") was amazing. The keyboardist on Stanley's right is from the country of Georgia and is only 20 years old!
  10. phillybass101


    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    Stanley Clarke was my first exposure to the Super or Lead Bassist. Plus he's a Doubler. And who can forget the Alembic Bass Storm he created. I can't think of a bassist from my era who didn't want that Alembic Bass. IMO he helped start the Boutique Bass Gas Situation. I'm partial too because I'm from Philly. Still would love to have one of those SC Alembic Basses just to stare at :)
  11. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    No. No one is "better" than Stanley Clarke. Others may well be "as good," but the reason no one is "better" is because there is no "better" than what he plays. There could be "faster," "more technically proficient," "better at a certain technique," etc etc etc, but Stanley is the whole package, and anyone who came along after his golden era probably built their chops ON his golden era.

    No one is "better" than Stanley Clarke.
    Likewise, no one is "better" than Jimi Hendrix.

    People who define an instrument/approach/genre/era stand alone in their respective positions, and we have to just give them that.
    Jhengsman and jazzyvee like this.
  12. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    For my money the new Stanley that I saw a few years ago in a club is far better than the classic old one, which I did also greatly enjoy back in the 70s. Partly because of tonal choices and more rational volume, but mostly because his overall vision as a band leader seems far more mature now. I still definitely prefer his upright work though, which borders on supernatural. But the way he seamlessly switches back in forth in his shows is pretty great.

    As far as comparisons to other players, I find that nearly pointless. It really just boils down to musical taste, and that's a greatly moving playing field in my world.
    jazzyvee likes this.
  13. Qlanq


    Jul 9, 2007
    When I was over my ABBA fixation, it was straight into Metal.
    Then I found Prog.......Sorted. As a listener and bass player.
    All was good.
    Then I caught this on the telly:

    All change.
    Top 2 bass players for me? Geddy and Stanley.
    Both shaped me as a player.
    jazzyvee likes this.
  14. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    Stanley has to be on top.
    I have seen him live with Billy Cobham and the soloing
    was just incedible, not just fast but great improvising.
    jazzyvee likes this.
  15. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    He was the highlight of that concert he did with Victor Wooten and Marcus Miller. I respect their talent tremendously but I'm not really a fan of their styles. Even when Stanley Clarke is playing fast and show-offey, he does it with class. I can't stand MM's tone and VW's style just doesn't appeal to me.
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