Live Jazz: Stanley Clarke at Catalina Bar & Grill

By Tony Gieske

Stanley Clarke made the most of his appearance at Catalina Bar & Grill Friday.

His sinewy fingers flew over the frets of his beautiful hollow wooden bass and his numerous solid basses of various materials. He owns at least 50.

Stanley Clarke's fingers

(At Catalina, all of them were electronically amplified so that the sound emerging remained pretty much the same no matter which ax he embraced or subdued.)

As to the solid bodies, who doesn’t know about that.

Stanley Clarke

Once he started his set, the music never stopped: waltzes, bossa novas,
everything except marches. There was even a bit of bebop, a Charlie Parker line adumbrated by three familiar local jazz instrumentalists on saxophone, trumpet and trombone.

As the whole world knows, particularly the Grammy folks, the Return to Forever alumnus can do anything he wants to with his instrumental arsenal, slapping the upright as though it were a big bongo while simultaneously  executing fiendishly difficult fingerings, or sliding the digits down the fretboard in breathtaking baritone glissandos.

By no means did Clarke hog the stage.

Ronald Bruner Jr.

He invited a couple of bass players up from the capacity audience, Bunny Brunel and a gent named Adrian, and they all three wailed virtuosically. He employed two keyboardists, one on a grand and one on electric, who were equally verbose.

The drummer, Ronald Bruner Jr., was a whole new spectacle all unto himself.  Couldn’t take my lens off him.

And yet, and yet…the whole fingerfest left my ears starved for jazz.

Photos by Tony Gieske.  To read and see more of Tony’s essays and photos at his personal web site click HERE.

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