STANLEY CLARKE | The Toys of Men | Heads Up
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Bassist Stanley Clarke is an institution in jazz. He is a soloist extraordinaire, charter member of Return To Forever (RTF) and film scorer. With The Toys of Men, Clarke returns to great fusion styles.
Working within several small configurations, this is still a true “band” quintet album. Opening with a hot, though relatively short, six-part full-band fusion suite, The Toys of Men is reminiscent of Clarke’s School Days and early RTF work. Tight melodies and multifaceted shifting rhythms, along with Mads Tolling’s violin and Ronald Bruner Jr.’s drum set playing, make this single piece worth the purchase price.
The rest of the disc moves in different directions with the constant being Clarke’s mastery. “Jerusalem” finds Clarke working in a trio playing some of the most beautiful bass guitar of his career. Esperanza Spalding’s vocals on “All Over Again” create the perfect surrealist landscape wrapped in a gorgeous medium groove. “Bad Asses,” Clarke’s heavy pedal-to-the-metal duet with Bruner, is just as the title implies.
Interspersed throughout the disc are solo acoustic performances to provide points of rumination that reflect and anticipate the other compositions.