Monday, 2 August 2010

Night School

by Stanley Clarke

Stanley Clarke is one of my jazz bass heroes. Alas, this video (documenting his concert at the Musicians Institute in 2002), does not do justice to him and his friends. The picture quality is dreadful. Why Wait, while listed in the booklet (featuring Lenny White, Patrice Rushen, Bennie Maupin and Wallace Roney, it says), does not appear on DVD. Instead, we are shown a stand-up comedian (called Sinbad, as I just learned), who is not even remotely funny. Three orchestral snippets are utterly dispensable. (Why on earth jazz musicians even attempt to do this? I mean, conducting the string orchestra — what, to be taken more seriously?) More embarrassment follows as Sheila E. takes break from her (very decent) drumming on Big Jam and all of the sudden bursts into singing.

Even so, there are moments that I liked a lot. Stevie Wonder makes a surprise piano improvisation on Giant Steps (I really prefer his playing to his singing). The closing number, School Days, was apparently devised as a showcase for some of America’s best electric bassists. So it is. The solo by Bunny Brunel is outstanding; the other guys are not bad either even though the nice parts did not sum up to a great whole. Undoubtedly the best part of the concert is Song To John (with Béla Fleck on banjo, Karen Briggs on violin, and the man himself on double bass), followed by The Lochs of Dread (the same trio, plus the one and only Stewart Copeland on drums). Now I would’t mind to have the whole DVD of this band. This time, properly filmed and edited.

No comments:

Post a Comment