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Stanley Clarke: Night School

Stanley Clarke with Stevie Wonder, Hollywood, 2002

Filmed in 2002 as part of Stanley Clarke’s annual residency at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, Calif., Night School is as much a celebration of Stanley Clarke as it is of the bass. Joined by an all-star, albeit random, cast of friends and musicians, Clarke demonstrates his ability to dabble in many different musical arenas and exhibit masterful skill and control in each of them. “Wild Dog” opens the night’s festivities with Clarke playing a slick lead melody while managing to slip into eye-popping runs and offbeat bass fills. Armand Sabal-Lecco provides back-up bass duties throughout much of the performance, and while at times it would be great to see Clarke do all the work himself-truly showcasing his ability to be the star and a solid sideman-Sabal-Lecco’s presence allows Clarke to step forward and really let his solos shine.

Contemporary rock musicians as well as jazz greats join Clarke onstage, most notably Flea from the funk-rocking Red Hot Chili Peppers, who lays down some nimble funk solos of his own. Stevie Wonder leads the band through a version of “Giant Steps” and Stewart Copeland tackles the Flecktones’ “Lochs of Dread,” along with Clarke, banjoist Béla Fleck and violinist Karen Briggs, and the tune has never sounded better. Clarke’s massive double-bass groove coupled with Copeland’s signature Jamaican rhythms nails the reggae tune in fine style.

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