Saturday, 30 June 2018

The Stanley Clarke Band "The Message" 2018 US Jazz Fusion new album


The Stanley Clarke Band  "The Message" 2018 US Jazz Fusion new album
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https://open.spotify.com/album/6DtroRg76chWowQn2hXF4x

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https://www.deezer.com/en/album/63130592


The Message (available June 29 via Mack Avenue Records) swells with an abundance of strength, soul and astounding musicianship. It’s a vision of fusion and funk, breakbeats and bass-interpreted cello suites with a little help from friends like rapper/beatboxer Doug E. Fresh and trumpeter Mark Isham. Backed by a young versatile band and a collection of tunes written in the midst of a tumultuous tour of Europe, 
“I’m very excited about our work on this album. I wanted to include some of my band members’ contributions and the result is an album that is funky, melodic, musical, contemporary and fresh with a rich multi-genre influence,” Clarke commented. “The guys in this band are consummate young musicians with musical spirits that are very old.” The line-up he refers to is pianist Beka Gochiashivili, drummer Mike Mitchell and keyboardist Cameron Graves. 

The band entered ICP Studios in Belgium and recorded an abundance of material. Clarke returned to his home in Los Angeles with the tapes and began to tinker. “Once I got the raw material, I fleshed it out. My ability is to orchestrate and arrange. I’m very good with taking anything and turning it into something.” 

Much of the material from their Paris adventure is collected on this album but the affair opens with a homegrown homage to several soulful great friends that Clarke has lost in the last few years including George Duke, Al Jarreau, Tom Petty, Leon “Ndugu” Chancler and Prince. Clarke slaps out a funky riff for “And Ya Know We’re Missing You” while renowned beatboxer Doug E. Fresh lays down an intrepid beat. A rare pairing that seems instinctual upon first listen. 
The Message is unmistakably a Stanley Clarke record…..~

Once upon a time, he was the enfant terrible of jazz bassists, whizz-kid of Chick Corea’s Return to Forever. On his latest album, The Message, at the ripe old age of 66, Stanley Clarke is very much the elder statesman, standing back on the cover pic, arms crossed, letting the youngsters grab the limelight and not giving a damn. 
Open up the sleeve and there’s Clarke again, besuited, sitting in a leather armchair, holding his electric bass, cool and calm, surrounded by the dudes of his band, in ripped jeans, creative hairstyles and looking as though they have attitude problems. 
The opening track is a requiem for recently departed musical luminaries Al Jarreau, Tom Petty (yes, Tom Petty), Chuck Berry (yes, Chuck Berry), Larry Coryell and Darryl Brown. Clarke seemingly wants you to know he does not approve of categorization when it comes to music, man. 
The main ambience of the album is spacey, courtesy, Clarke says, of L. Ron Hubbard, sci-fi writer and founder of Scientology . But there are many digressions. “Lost in a World” and “After The Cosmic Rain/Dance of the Planetary Prince,” leavened with girly back-up vocals, are pure pop. More importantly, “The Message” features the leader on acoustic guitar. It’s a lovely number and a relief from the spacey hokum. 
But “Combat Continuum” sees Clarke switching to Orson Welles-mode as -courtesy of voice actor Steve Blum -he broadcasts news of an alien invasion. Things are looking grim for Planet Earth until Blum reveals that it was all a linguistic misunderstanding; the aliens only wanted to help us heal the planet from the ecological damage we’ve inflicted on it. 
Meanwhile, full marks, Commander Clarke, for a masterly Bach prelude, expertly bowed. But surely we could have been spared “To Be Alive"—the seemingly inevitable rap number. The message (perhaps from an older, wiser civilisation in a galaxy far, far away) is that even a great musician comes unstuck trying to be all things to all men… and women….By CHRIS MOSEY ……~
Stanley Clarke’s releases within 2010’s have been so excellent, tend to forget that its been 45 years since he debuted as his own leader. And since the last Stanley Clarke Band dropped? The US has spiraled into a state of sociopolitical confusion and angst. Old notions of doing things are wearing themselves ragged. While new ideas are being reluctantly embraced by many more people. During confusing times, musicians (especially in jazz) have had a way of speaking about such matters more coherently. All through the language of music itself. Bass legend Stanley Clarke seemed to be reaching for this plateau with his new quarter for this album. 

"And Ya Know We’re Missing You” is a slap bass funk intro that pays tribute to some of the musical icons who passed away in 2017 while this album was being recorded. After this comes “After The Cosmic Rain/Dance Of The Planetary Prince”, “The Rugged Truth”, and “The Message”-all part of a five song suite-these three focusing on a progressive jazz/fusion approach. “Combat Continuum” is more industrial and noisy-with a mock news report regarding helpful aliens being mistaken for invaders. “Lost In A World” actually has a vocal modern rock flavor. “Alternative Facts” is a lightly fusion flavored post bop number. “ Bass Cello Suite” and “The Legend Of Abbas And The Sacred Talisman” focus on Clarke’s solos/vamps on bass. 

The last two songs really astound me most “Enzo’s Theme” is a rhythmically compelling mixture of nu jazz/ funk with some skipping trap underpinnings. “To Be Alive” is a straight up jazz/funk stomper-featuring the rapping and beat boxing of hip-hop icon Doug E. Fresh. The musical and conceptual ideas that Clarke along with keyboardist Cameron Graves, pianist Beka Gochiashivili and drummer Mike Mitchell come up with here are often incredible.It brings together elements from Clarke’s different musical sides-from proggy fusion, to (somewhat) acoustical jazz and his classic funk oriented sound. All in seeking to make sense of the changes in modern society-both conceptually and orally. 

“And Ya Know We’re Missing You” is a slap bass funk intro that pays tribute to some of the musical icons who passed away in 2017 while this album was being recorded. After this comes “After The Cosmic Rain/Dance Of The Planetary Prince”, “The Rugged Truth”, and “The Message”-all part of a five song suite-these three focusing on a progressive jazz/fusion approach. “Combat Continuum” is more industrial and noisy-with a mock news report regarding helpful aliens being mistaken for invaders. “Lost In A World” actually has a vocal modern rock flavor. “Alternative Facts” is a lightly fusion flavored post bop number. “ Bass Cello Suite” and “The Legend Of Abbas And The Sacred Talisman” focus on Clarke’s solos/vamps on bass. 

The last two songs really astound me most “Enzo’s Theme” is a rhythmically compelling mixture of nu jazz/ funk with some skipping trap underpinnings. “To Be Alive” is a straight up jazz/funk stomper-featuring the rapping and beat boxing of hip-hop icon Doug E. Fresh. The musical and conceptual ideas that Clarke along with keyboardist Cameron Graves, pianist Beka Gochiashivili and drummer Mike Mitchell come up with here are often incredible.It brings together elements from Clarke’s different musical sides-from proggy fusion, to (somewhat) acoustical jazz and his classic funk oriented sound. All in seeking to make sense of the changes in modern society-both conceptually and orally…..Andre S. Grindle….~

The Stanley Clarke Band moniker goes back at least as far as 1985’s electro-funk-inflected Find Out!, and picked up in earnest with 2010’s eponymously titled The Stanley Clarke Band. The only real through-line, however, is virtuoso bass pioneer Clarke, who leads his ever-evolving bands through what are usually a stylistically varied set of songs that touch upon driving jazz-fusion, funky crossover jams, harmonically nuanced acoustic modal bop, and even forays into classical. It’s a cross-pollinated vibe he championed on 2014’s Up and one he returns to with conceptual gusto on 2018’s expansive The Message. Joining him are pianist Beka Gochiashvili (who previously played Up), keyboardist Cameron Graves, and drummer Mike Mitchell. Musically, each of these players are compelling in their own right, and make for a dynamic unit. While Clarke doesn’t completely grab on to one central theme here, the general tone of The Message is one of reaching for enlightenment in what often seems like a troubling, dystopian world. It’s a vibe that’s largely intimated in song titles like “The Rugged Truth” and “Alternative Facts,” both of which marry propulsively swinging jazz-rock rhythms with sparkling keyboard work. Elsewhere, tracks like the sprawling “After the Cosmic Rain/Dance of the Planetary Prince” and “Combat Continuum,” with its spoken-word narrative about a global resistance battle against an invader with “massive unknown technology,” evokes ‘70s prog rock conceits, just as surely as it allegorically implies more contemporary social and political concerns. Clarke also bookends his album with two hip-hop jazz pieces featuring rapper Doug E. Fresh, including a thrilling opening bass and beatbox homage dedicated to a handful of longtime Clarke associates who passed away while he was working on the album, including Al Jarreau, Larry Coryell, Tom Petty, and others. Interestingly, the title track, while aesthetically in keeping with fusion-influenced tone of the album, finds Clarke stepping away from his bandmates and collaborating on a brightly atmospheric, new age-sounding ballad with synth and sound designer Pat Leonard. Elsewhere, he dips into soulful pop balladry on “Lost in a World” with vocalists Trevor Wesley and Skyeler Kole, displays his adept, classical chops with a lyrical rendition of the “Bach Cello Suite 1 (Prelude),” and draws upon his work with pianist Chick Corea for the far-eyed acoustic jazz ballad “The Legend of Abbas and the Sacred Talisman.” Ultimately, while the conceptual “message” of The Message can often seem a bit unfocused, Clarke’s music remains as crisp and inventive as ever…. by Matt Collar….~


Personnel: 

Stanley Clarke: guitar, bass; Beka Gochiashvili: piano; Cameron Graves, Pat Leonard, Dominique Taplin: synthesizers; Mike Mitchell: drums; Salar Nadar: tabla; Doug Webb: saxophone, flute; Chuck Findley, Ron Stout: trumpet, French horn; Dwayne Benjamin: trombone; Michael Thompson: guitar; Steve Blum, Skyeler Kole, Trevor Wesley, Sofia Sara Clarke, Chris Clarke, Doug E Fresh: vocals.


1. And Ya Know We’re Missing You 02:16 
2. After The Cosmic Rain/Dance Of The Planetary Prince 06:59 
3. The Rugged Truth 03:32 
4. Combat Continuum 04:53 
5. The Message 02:49 
6. Lost In A World 05:31 
7. Alternative Facts 03:47 
8. Bach Cello Suite 1 (prelude) 02:26 
9. The Legend Of The Abbas And The Sacred Talisman 04:04 
10. Enzo’s Theme 03:44 
11. To Be Alive 04:54 

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