Stanley Clarke

A brilliant player on both acoustic and electric basses, Stanley Clarke has spent much of his career outside of jazz, although he has the ability to play jazz with the very best. He played accordion as a youth, switching to violin and cello before settling on bass. He worked with R&B and rock bands in high school, but after moving to New York he worked with Pharoah Sanders in the early '70s. Other early gigs were with Gil Evans, Mel Lewis, Horace Silver, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, and Art Blakey; everyone was impressed by his talents. However, Clarke really hit the big time when he started teaming up with Chick Corea in Return to Forever. When the group became a rock-oriented fusion quartet, Clarke mostly emphasized electric bass and became an influential force, preceding Jaco Pastorius. But, starting with his School Days album (1976) and continuing through his funk group with George Duke (the Clarke/Duke Project) and his projects writing movie scores, Stanley Clarke largely moved beyond the jazz world into commercial music, notable exceptions during the '80s and '90s including his 1988 Portrait album If This Bass Could Only Talk and his 1995 collaboration with Jean-Luc Ponty and Al DiMeola on the acoustic The Rite of Strings.