My first exposure to the mega talented Stanley Clarke was via his 1981 collaboration with George Duke on the “Sweet Baby” single. My music taste has always been eclectic and I was very much into Jazz funk in the late 70s and early 80s in addition to my love of punk, reggae and many other forms of this wonderful thing called music. I had listened to Stanley Clarke on and off since then and watched a few live videos of him on YouTube and I honestly hadn’t thought about going to see him play. But then I chanced upon a flyer for the gig at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds.
Once I had booked my ticket I started to get a tad excited about seeing the jazzmeister and he did not disappoint. There was an issue at the venue which meant the show started late, but that dampened no one’s enthusiasm. The band around Mr. Clarke consists of two keyboard players; Cameron Graves, aged 30, Beka Gochiashvili aged 21 and a powerfully talented drummer called Mike Mitchell also aged 21 and who I believe is known by the nickname Blaque Dynamite. I think that having a young band around him really seems to inspire Clarke. He was generous in his praise of the band throughout the show.
Admittedly I was surprised that there was neither guitarist nor brass in the lineup and I thought that might diminish the overall sound but it didn’t. Stanley plays the bass like no one else I have ever seen. He brings out melodies and tunes from an instrument that for many bands is just a sometimes perfunctory part of the rhythm section. He is a clearly a true genius and on top of that the crowd love him. In fact this is perhaps the biggest crowd that I have been a part of at this fabulous venue too. Stanley is as adept on the electric bass as he is on the double bass, the latter of which he plays by hand or with a bow. Given the array of guitars and bass guitars that many musicians carry with them Clarke used the same bass guitar throughout, well obviously apart from the double bass excursions.
I am not a true jazz aficionado so I can’t really tell you much about the set list. However one stand out moment for me was the beautiful arrangement of the Charlie Mingus jazz standard “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”. I would definitely see Stanley Clarke play live again after this, I left the venue on a proper high with a smile on my face that stayed with me until I fell asleep that night and maybe even it remained during said sleep, who knows?
Public service announcement, all the pictures were sourced via Google and all the videos discovered on YouTube. I am happy to provide credit to the posters