Stanley Clarke = Still Doing It, Still Got It

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Wilbyman, Jun 27, 2008.

  1. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    I saw RTF in Cleveland this week and had a fantastic time. They put on a great show. I was too young to see Stanley in the 70's (I was a child of the 70's but only for 2.5 years!). However, I can't imagine he could have played this very difficult RTF music any better back in the day. I didn't hear him miss a note. He has all of the speed, power and precision I have ever heard on RTF records or his solo albums.

    On the way back from the show, I was kind of reflecting about the Jaco/Stanley thing...Stanley's life (as far as I can tell, not knowing him) seems to have been well lived. He appears to be in great health doing what he loves to do at a very very high level. Jaco had that mercurial rise to fame and cult status but unfortunately didn't get to enjoy his success IMO.

    I am in no position to judge either man, but I think it's fantastic that Stanley is out playing for the next's clear that he will be playing for my children as well!
  2. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    I saw him on the Romantic Warrior tour, plus with his own band a few times in the 70s. I missed the current RTF tour, but I caught him on a club date earlier this year playing in a quartet including Dennis Chambers. I thought he sounded much better this last time, all the way around -- tone, lyrical conception, etc. That's saying a lot, since he was great in the 70s as well IMHO. It was a real threat catching two sets from 8 feet away from Stanley, for sure.

    For me, his upright playing has always been my favorite, but I really liked his BG sound a lot more than ever. How was his BG tone in the bigger setting you heard him in?
  3. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    I play both as well and went to the concert planning to enjoy his URB performance more than the BG stuff. I actually really preferred his BG playing and sound. His electric tone was HUGE and percussive with that gritty, glass-shattering high end. It wasn't my personal tonal preference but it sounded amazing at high volume.

    In comparison, the DB sound was kind of boomy and hard to get be fair, I think it's tough to amplify a DB for 5000 people. Stanley played great DB (as fast as his BG playing to be sure) and his solo was fun but all in all I preferred the BG playing and sound more.
  4. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Thanks. I was mainly wondering if he reverted to the uber-clank for the RTF thing. I guess that's what I'd want to hear if they were doing all the old tunes, but I was kind of hoping for a new thing, y'know? In a 5000 seater I would definitely expect BG to work better in most cases.

    At the recent show I saw his BG sound was nothing like that really. It was bordering on the dreaded "smooth jazz" thing at times, but that was perfect for what he was playing at that show, and it was still definitely Stanley. He had a huge stack for a 500 seat club, and a scary effects setup, but it was not very loud at all. I was close enough to maybe partly hear the URB acoustically, but I thought the tone was wonderful.

    I double as well, but with an EUB. Actually, I haven't had a call for a BG gig in quite a while.;)
  5. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I think it is very easy not to give Stanley Clarke his due because has had a very long career, and not all the music he has played has been inspired. Like a lot of Fusion dudes, he got caught up trying to have a hit record instead of just being creative, and some of his bill paying work, like soundtracks, was done by the numbers, IMO.

    Given his shortcomings, he still soloed on bass guitar like no one had ever done before. His speed, deep musical knowledge, and incorporation of slap were all unprecedented. There would have been no Victor Wooten without Stanley Clarke, and in a pure speed match, I still would not bet against Stanley Clarke.:bassist:
  6. Eric Grossman

    Eric Grossman

    Nov 3, 2004
    St. Louis
    Endorsing Artist: Hipshot Products, DR Strings and Accugroove Speaker Cabinets
    I studied with Stanley, and had the pleasure to call him a friend in the 80's and 90's. He is my original bass hero, and it's probably due to him that I started playing. I have his Simandl book. He gave it to me, when I studied with him. His notes are in the margins.

    I was out of town when RTF came here. I would have loved to see them, and see Stanley after so long. I last spoke with him in '98.

    Here is one of my favorite Stanley stories:

    In the '80s, Stanley played in a band called Animal Logic, with Stewart Copeland, and Michael Thompson, and a singer who's name escapes me. They did a show at the Roxy in Hollywood, and I went with a friend of mine. My friend, BJ Norris was and probably still is a very funky, very killer bass player.
    It was me, BJ, and a bunch of other musician friends. I paid for my tickets, as I would never have asked Stanley to comp me. The show was cool. When it ended, security cleared the room, and we were all outside.
    The band was managed by Miles Copeland, who I recognized, outside the theater. I wanted to say hi to Stanley, so I approached Miles, to ask him if I could. No dice. He didn't give me the time of day. My friends were getting that smirky look on their faces. I figured I would try one more thing.
    I asked the security person at the front door to give Stanley a message. He was very nice about it, and agreed. I said, "Tell Stanley that Eric is here."
    Two minutes later, the doors swung open, and my entire party was brought inside. Stanley was standing against a pillar, so I didn't see him. As I walked passed him, he called out my name. I turned and put out my hand to shake his. He brushed my hand away, and hugged me.
    My friends were speechless. Whenever I was at BJ's house, people would say, "Hey, you're the guy Stanley was huggin' on, aren't you?" The stuff of legends.

    I also did a live solo in School Days, at the Strand in California. Stanley was walking through the crowd during the show, as he always does. When he saw me, he thrust his brown bass into my face, so I could do the little "hammer on, bend the string above the nut" trick that he does.

    Later, I came up and did a solo in School days, on a p-bass he had in the wings. Awesome memories. He's an awesome guy, and in my opinion, one of the most important and significant bass players ever. He's probably my favorite upright player, as well.

    A little trivia for you guys, he purchased his upright (the only one he's owned) for $200 when he was at conservatory in Philly, from "some guy on the street", when he was about 19. It's probably a, $8000 instrument.
  7. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Eric, that's a great story or stories. I agree that historically, Stanley Clarke is a very important bassist. I just think that since he is still among us, it is easy to overlook just how great his influence has been. Since Jaco died and became legendary upon death, and a younger generation lead by Victor Wooten came up with new "tricks," it is easy to underestimate Clarke's genius and influence.
  8. bottomzone

    bottomzone Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2005
    Stanley Clarke-often imitated, never dupicated! A true innovator and trail blazer on both the electric and acoustic bass and one of the few virtuosos on both. He hasn't really changed much-he's still stuck on phenomenal :smug:! Seeing Stanley for the first time in 1976 was the turning point as far as my decision to play the electric bass beginning in 1980. However, because Stanley made the bass look like a toy is his masterful hands, there did come a time when I realized this is not as easy Stanley makes it look and I almost gave up as fast as I started!!!! Seeing him in concert again later with his own bands and with Return to Forever back in 1982 inspired me to stick with it. It has been a joyful struggle ever since!!!

    A Groove is a Terrible Thing to Waste! :cool:
  9. gwx014


    Dec 22, 2005
    Very Cool! Thanks for sharing!