Recording artist, performer, composer, conductor, arranger, producer and film score composer, Stanley Clarke is one of the most celebrated bass players in the world. Known for his ferocious dexterity and consummate musicality, Clarke is a true pioneer in jazz and jazz fusion. Unquestionably, he has attained "living legend" status during his 36-year career as a bass virtuoso.
October 16, 2007, Clarke's new CD, The Toys of Men was released. The first week of release it made a phenomenal jump to 2 on Billboard Magazine's Contemporary Jazz Chart. It has continued to stay in the Contemporary Jazz Top Ten. The 13-track CD examines the emotional sweep of war, and features guest appearances by vocalist/bassist Esperanza Spalding, percussionist Paulinho da Costa. The Toys of Men also includes acoustic bass interludes that provide a stirring counterpoint to Clarke's more well known fiery electric bass attack. This is Clarke's first solo release in five years. Fans have been looking forward to this new CD and reviews confirm it has been worth waiting for. Grammy Award winning Return to Forever, one of the most influential groups of the 1970s, have announced their long anticipated reunion tour. All of the original players, Stanley on bass, keyboardist Chick Corea, guitarist Al Di Meola and drummer Lenny White, are planning a 40 to 50 date tour across the U.S. and Europe in the Summer and Fall of 2008. This will mark their first performances together in more than 25 years. XM Radio's "Beyond Jazz" has stated that this tour is sure to be "THE Jazz Event of 2008" Throughout the 1970s, RTF recorded eight albums, two of which were certified gold (Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy and Romantic Warrior), won a Grammy award for No Mystery and received numerous nominations while touring incessantly.
Early in 2007 Heads Up International through Clarke's own Roxboro Entertainment Group released a DVD entitled Night School: An Evening with Stanley Clarke and Friends (HUDV-7118). The star-studded 90-minute presentation chronicles the third annual Stanley Clarke Scholarship Concert, recorded at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA, in October 2002. Clarke strongly feels that those who have had success in realizing their own vision have a duty to help others in their struggle to emerge. Putting thoughts into action, he developed a way to offer scholarships to selected students in financial need, who excel in music. The Night School DVD scholarship concert features diverse group of musicians that include Stevie Wonder, Wallace Roney, Bela Fleck, Sheila E., Stewart Copeland, Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea, Wayman Tisdale, Marcus Miller and so many more. Night School captures performances that range from straight-ahead jazz to full-tilt rock fusion to twenty-two-piece string. The DVD has garnered outstanding reviews since it's release.
Clarke also continues traveling to universities and colleges around the country giving Masters and Bass Workshops. Clarke's highly coveted workshops cover numerous aspects of being a working musician including a historical perspective of jazz and an overall approach to music including the business side. Other workshops are honed to cover specific topics such as developing film scores.
Clarke himself was a teen music prodigy. In 1971 the jazz world immediately recognized the dexterity and complete musicality Stanley Clarke possessed when he first arrived on the scene fresh from the Philadelphia Academy of Music. He instantly began working with great bandleaders of the time such as: Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, Joe Henderson, Pharaoh Saunders, Gil Evans, Stan Getz and Chick Corea.
An expert at crafting bass lines and as a timekeeper in the traditional bass role, Clarke pushed himself towards perfection with relentless attention to be the best. His efforts catapulted him to the front of the stage as a viable melodic bass soloist where his dream manifested first within Return to Forever.
Stanley Clarke became the first bassist in history who could double on acoustic and electric bass with equal ferocity, as well as the first bassist ever to headline tours, selling out shows worldwide. In 1976 Clarke recorded what is now considered to be the must-know bass anthem, "School Days." To this day, accomplished and aspiring bassists continue to imitate his style seeking to master his pioneered percussive slap funk technique. To extend his melodic range to play higher registers as he sees orchestrationally fit, he invented two new instruments: the piccolo bass and the tenor bass.
Other notable (recording/touring) project involvements are: (1979) Jeff Beck, (1980) Keith Richards' New Barbarians, (1981) Clarke/Duke Project with George Duke, (1989) Animal Logic with Stuart Copeland, (1993-94) The Superband with Larry Carlton, Billy Cobham, Najee & Deron Johnson, (1995) The Rite of Strings with Jean-Luc Ponty and Al Di Meola and (1999) Vertu' with Lenny White.
In addition to touring with his own band, Clarke continues to enjoy the challenge of collaborating with other artists on tour. During the summer and fall of 2007 he toured with his Rites of Strings comrades, Al DiMeola and Jean-Luc Ponty. In addition to a date in France and dates in the Eastern US, the tour included extensive appearances in South America.
In 2006 Clarke joined old friend, George Duke for a 40-city tour of festivals and performing arts centers. Through 2008 they are doing selected domestic and international engagements together. The duo first teamed to form the Clarke/Duke Project in 1981. They scored a Top 20 hit with "Sweet Baby" and recorded three albums. This was the first time Clarke and Duke had toured together in fifteen years.
In 2005 Clarke toured as Trio! with legends in their own right, Bela Fleck and Jean Luc Ponty. The U.S. and European tour received glowing reviews and standing ovations where ever they performed. In fact, Trio! was nominated for a 2006 Relix Jammy Award in the category of "Tour of the Year."
Since the 80's, Stanley has been turning his energy to film and television scoring. He is currently scoring the ABC Family Channel popular and critically acclaimed series "Lincoln Heights," in addition to writing the show's theme song. He recently finished scoring Ice Cube's new film, First Sunday, which opened nationwide on January 11 at 2 at the boxoffice.
Starting in television, Clarke was nominated for an Emmy for his score for "Pee Wee's Playhouse" and his title themes for "Hull High" and "Knightwatch." He won the BMI Film Music Award for Oscar-nominated film Boyz 'n the Hood. He is composer, orchestrator, conductor and performer on such iconic films as What's Love Got To Do With It, Passenger 57, Poetic Justice, Little Big League, Romeo Must Die, The Transporter, Undercover Brother and Roll Bounce. Clarke received critical acclaim as the composer of the hit Showtime series "Soul Food". All together Clarke has over 65 film credits. He has become one of the elite in-demand composers in Hollywood. The 1995 release, Stanley Clarke at the Movies, bears stunning witness to this. He is in the process of putting together a second compilation of his film scores, Stanley Clarke at the Movies: Two.
Regarding his composing, Clarke said, "Film has given me the opportunity to compose music not normally associated with myself. It has given me a chance to conduct orchestras and arrange music for various types of ensembles. It's been a diverse experience for me musically, utilized all my skills and made me a more complete musician."
In October 2006 Clarke was honored with Bass Player Magazine's Lifetime Achievement Award. Bass greats Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten presented the award at a ceremony at New York City's Millenium Broadway Hotel. A multi Grammy award winner, Stanley was Rolling Stone's very first "Jazzman of the Year," was Playboy's Music Award - Best Bassist winner for 10 straight years and is a member of Guitar Player Magazine's "Gallery of Greats." He was honored with the key to the city of Philadelphia and put his hands in cement as a 1999 inductee into Hollywood's "Rock Walk" on Sunset Boulevard. Clarke has won every Reader's Poll and Critic's Poll out there. In 2004 he was featured in Los Angeles Magazine as one of the Top 50 Most Influential People.
Due to Clarke's status in the music world as well as his ability to articulate about music in a way that all can understand, BET-J launched a series hosted by Clarke entitled, "On the Road with Stanley Clarke" in June 2006. The series consists of seven episodes titled: "Origins of Black Music," "That Philly Sound," "Jazz Beyond the Classroom," "Black Music in Film, Television & Theatre," "Jazz," "Black Music in Film - The Next Generation" and "Bass to Bass." Some of his guests include Terence Blanchard, Marcus Miller, George Duke, The Tate Brothers, Gamble & Huff and academics Dr. Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje and Dr. Cheryl Keyes from the Department of Ethnomusicology at UCLA among many others. "On the Road with Stanley Clarke" episodes were rerun on BET-J in 2007.
Stanley Clarke, to this day, remains as passionate about music as that young teen prodigy from Philly with big dreams. Like the man himself, his biography is a continuous work in progress. Legend is a word that has been associated with Stanley since he was 25, yet he remains unpretentious, preferring simple pleasures in the peaceful canyons where he resides in Los Angeles.