Friday, November 11, 2016

Stanley Clarke @ le Trianon, Paris - November 11th, 2016

Jazz fusion bass maestro Stanley Clarke is in town and that means an evening of funky grooves, and virtuosic musicianship.

I wasn't familiar with most of the repertoire he played last night apart from classics like School Days but it didn't matter. In fact, it's even better to hear those compositions with fresh ears. The tunes are very rich harmonically and rhythmically but never at the expense of the swing and the melody. Most themes are actually very simple.

The band is obviously very good, with a special mention to young piano prodigy Beka Gochiaschvili, who will no doubt become a star in his own right in the years to come. But of course the focus is on the star of the night, bass innovator Stanley Clarke whose mere presence imposes respect and awe.

And the minute he starts playing, he manages to project both warmth and coolness all at once, capitalising on his legend with every slap of the thumb. This isn't sterile virtuosity however, this is all in support of the tune, the groove, the mood.

Jazz isn't dead. It morphs, changes, adapts and fuses with other genres. It evolves and Stanley Clarke is one of the musicians who helps it move forward. Not only has he left his mark on the language, he has also left his mark on the instrument itself and redefined the way the bass is used in compositions. That's why last night wasn't simply a gig by a master musician: it was a meeting with History.

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