Of all the visionary musicians who broke ground in the pioneering fusion era of the 1970s- bassist Stanley Clarke was a true vanguard – and remains so. While the petty jazz police were busy bickering over whether the electric bass was/is the bastard child of the electric guitar and rock ‘n’ roll, Stanley and his equally iconic and prodigious peer Jaco Pastorius boundlessly expanded the scope of the instrument beyond anything Leo Fender or any bass inventor could have remotely imagined. In addition to his unparalleled technique and rhythmic and harmonic genius, Stanley fervently incorporated the languages of rhythm & blues, soul, funk, disco, and rock into to the jazz lexicon.
By “legitimizing” those previously marginalized genres in a jazz context, Stanley Clarke is unquestionably a giant of American music, art, and culture. His compositions, in my opinion, stand among the jazz masters from Ellington to Mingus to Coltrane and beyond.