NPR logo

Stanley Clarke: A Lyrical Bass Player

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/15879188/16611403" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Stanley Clarke: A Lyrical Bass Player

Music Articles

Stanley Clarke: A Lyrical Bass Player

Stanley Clarke: A Lyrical Bass Player

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/15879188/16611403" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Stanley Clarke. Courtesy of Stanley Clarke hide caption

toggle caption
Courtesy of Stanley Clarke

Song List

  • "Jerusalem"
  • "Dayride" (Return to Forever)
  • "School Days"
  • "Untitled Song"

When Stanley Calrke was only 25, the word "legend" was already being used to describe him. Now, he's a king of the acoustic and electric jazz worlds, having won every major award available to a bass player: Grammys, Emmys, gold and platinum records and more.

In 1971, Clarke entered the world of jazz as a teenager from the Philadelphia Academy of Music. When he arrived in New York City, he immediately got to play with such famous bandleaders as Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Joe Henderson, Gil Evans and Stan Getz, all of whom recognized the dexterity and musicality of the young Clarke. Not only was he gifted at crafting bass lines and functioning as a timekeeper in the bass' traditional role, but he also possessed a sense of lyricism and melody that allowed him to make the bass a viable solo instrument.

The opportunity to take the bass to the front of the concert stage succeeded when Clarke joined Chick Corea, an aspiring young pianist and composer, to form the electric jazz/fusion band Return to Forever. Meanwhile, Clarke started his solo career and released several albums that are among the best in the jazz history — namely Stanley Clarke (1974), Journey to Love (1975) and School Days (1976). Overall, his music as a solo, band or guest performer can be heard on more than 100 albums.

Article continues after sponsorship

Having turned his energy to film and television scoring in the '80s and '90s, Clarke recently returned to his original love of playing bass. His latest album, The Toys of Men, functions as a career summary of sorts, with Clarke delivering a series of solo acoustic bass miniatures that reference past efforts while functioning with impressive restraint.

This story originally ran Nov. 2, 2007.

Related NPR Stories

Purchase Featured Music

Buy Featured Music

Album
The Toys of Men
Artist
Stanley Clarke
Label
Heads Up
Released
2007

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

Buy Featured Music

Album
No Mystery
Artist
Return to Forever
Label
Polygram
Released
1975

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

Buy Featured Music

Album
School Days
Artist
Stanley Clarke
Label
Sony
Released
1976

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?