Virtuoso bass player Stanley Clarke jammed three days in a row at Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood. Performing two shows a night with the authenticity of a legend, Clarke sends his audience on a musical journey capable of stimulating all of the human senses and letting them catch a mythical wave of patchouli in the air.
To keep the jams fresh, Clarke’s Trio features 17-year-old pianist Beka Gochiashvili and 19-year-old drummer Mike Mitchell. Clarke knows it's part of jazz tradition to pass on wisdom to the most talented of the younger generation similarly to when he came on the scene at 17-years-old playing with Art Blakey. The Harlem Quartet, a Grammy-winning string quartet composed of two violins, a viola and a cello, joined the Trio on stage for a special collaboration on their stop in L.A.
Proving that upright bass can be a lead instrument, Stanley’s finger technique is a show itself. He holds his instrument like a natural extension of his own body, at times caressing its chords, other times slapping and abruptly hitting the strings in the exact notes. "Black Narcissus" by Joe Henderson was one of the songs the band revisited, tuning spectators into a melodic parallel universe. A different arrangement for "Adventures of Hippocrates" by Chick Corea, with whom Stanley played extensively in the 70s, was also part of his set list.
A very diverse crowd with sophisticated taste showed up to celebrate the composer of "School Days," a song he says he wrote on a burst of excitement. Catalina Club is one of the few spots in town that blends the west with the best in jazz (think a lower Manhattan Jazz Club kind of feeling). Mr. Clarke leaves the heat of Sunset Blvd to tour the U.S. and Chile with a diversity of projects and collaborations including “School Days” and a week at New York City’s Blue Note at the end of April. For more information, visit http://stanleyclarke.com/tours/.
As the reviewer here has been immersed in Stanley Clarke's music lately I asked the sweet Monica Getz, who I met through her son Nick Getz, to pull a story out of her memories from the time Clarke played with her late husband Stan Getz:
"In 1966 I started a company for musical productions called Shadowbrook Productions (named for our beautiful refuge and home in Westchester County, N.Y.) in order to produce the ultimate quality recordings and musical settings for Stan. Eventually I also had a recording studio built on the property for that purpose.
Around 1970 when we also had a home in London and had stayed in Europe for a period of time, preparing to come back to New York, we had especially booked an engagement at the top of the Rockefeller Center - the Rainbow Room, a place that until then had not often featured jazz. We tried to put together a group of the best of the best of all the musicians in America at that time. Stan was very apprehensive, but it worked out beyond our wildest expectations. The reviews were to the moon. This caused quite a sensation with enormous lines around the block of fans young and old, rich and poor... a cross section of every kind of music lover as word of mouth spread that this was indeed the best of the best that music could offer at the time.
That group consisted (among others) of Stanley Clark on bass, Tony Williams on drums, Airto Moreira on percussion and Chick Corea on piano, which was actually the core and the beginning of "Return to Forever." We also featured Joao Gilberto on vocals and guitar for a Brazilian emphasis in the program, and occasionally Yvonne Elliman from Jesus Christ Superstar, who was a friend of our daughter, Beverly's from London. As I said, the engagement became legendary.
All the band members were frequently at our house. Stanley Clark as well as each of the band members were highly intelligent, fun and super enthusiastic for the new music that was being forged. I especially remember the "Brazilian Feijoada" that Airto and his wonderful wife Flora Purim cooked for the rest of us. That became one of the most memorable days from that period. Stanley was always a gentleman, and I remember him fondly as caring and very bright with a beautiful smile of inner peace.
Later I booked the band in Europe and we traveled together to Montreux Jazz Festival in 1972 at which time we recorded "Captain Marvel" at a studio there. The band members of the English pop group Queen joined us as they were huge fans of Stan's and the recording session was considered a sensation - as had their live performance been there - because Stan ventured briefly into electronics using a Selmer Varitone electric sax. Half in jest and half seriously he began to experiment in an entirely new world of echoes and electronics. The band picked right up on his ideas and added many of their own. It was as happy a session as I can remember. Stan was rejoicing in his new found sobriety and health as well. (I think Captain Marvel was later released in 1975 by Columbia Records.)
I will always remember Stanley Clark as a most talented and gifted musician - sensitive, intelligent and kind, with a good sense of humor for good measure." -Monica Getz
Text and Photos by Paula Tripodi
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