Legend is a small word to define the career of the bass player of Return To Forever, with a few years on the counter, does he still handle his bass like he did in the 70’s ?
The legend himself.
Between Chick Corea, Jeff Beck and Keith Richards, Mr. Clarke have a CV that would make the young people of the conservatory flinch, and it is at the AB that we finally have the opportunity to meet this great man of jazz and fusion. Well installed in the sitting formula of the room, the artist arrives on stage all smiles at the right time under a thunder of applause. 71 years old and with the style of a teenager, the bass seems like a rejuvenating treatment for some. From the beginning, it is bass in hand that Stanley greets us in the most respectful way. In a quintet formula and with musicians who are probably the age of his grandchildren, the show starts directly in jazzfusion lands, where we finally expected it. with some known patterns of Al Di Meola for example… We obviously find the small references to his long career, especially regarding the solos from his musicians. Still, we see who is the boss besides, just with a raised finger, Stanley Clarke guides his colleagues with a respect and a musicality which feels SO good. To play in a so simple way pieces that are so complicated fells like a soft insult to the musicians in the audience, and God knows if he laughed at us. The tapped chords of his classic “School Days” heats up an audience that will drop their seats very early in the concert to cheer the performances of the septuagenarian ! With a moment of emotion and a beautiful tribute to his fellow pianists gone: “A beautiful part of the cake has gone” he will say. Far from being nostalgic, he will rather thank his audience to continue to share the crazy stories of his friend Chick and to pass on this heritage, which works in view of the age diversity of the room.
A page is turned
Even inviting a singer for a song written by Chick himself, we will enjoy the completely crazy passages of an overworked drummer, linking solos, all in a sumptuous musicality, far from the technical competition of which some can fall in the vice. Afterwards, we suspected that it would sometimes “shake the handle“, excuse the expression, but when it is well done why complain. “We will have a short, a long and a very long piece” … We suspected it , Stanley.
It is sometimes a festival of improvisations but we never get lost there and those who find themselves there the most are the musicians, once again led by the Beast on the drums which will have the luxury to destroy its cymbals, alla punk. Pushing his colleagues to the front of the stage, the pleasure is shared and the shouts are quickly heard in response to the crazy phrases of the musicians. It’s Sunday and the gig will end early, with a funky encore that will remind us that behind the incessant solos of our friend Stanley on bass or even double bass, there is above all a completely crazy groover. To quote the artist: “There’s always love” and tonight we saw what it was to love music madly.
A moment suspended in time… AB quickly turned into a New York club on this sunny Sunday. A rather calm and conquered audience, an impeccable sound worthy of the room and musicians who give all they can give. We saw Stanley Clarke, but above all we saw a band that took pleasure in retracing, improvising and rewriting the long history of good shows at the Ancienne Belgique. 71 years old and with all his teeth, Stanley could go on for another 20 years like that, sublimating the bass and the double bass, God forbid, we want to see him again.