Friday, August 14, 2015

Stanley Clarke - 1975 "Journey To Love"

Journey to Love is the third jazz funk fusion album by bass guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Stanley Clarke, accompanied by familiar musicians he has often worked with like George Duke and Chick Corea. Other legendary players on this record are John McLaughlin and Jeff Beck.

It has often been said that Stanley Clarke did for the fretted electric bass in the 1970s what fellow virtuoso Jaco Pastorius did for the fretless. For any aspiring jazz-rock bassist coming up in the time between Bitches Brew and Feels So Good, Stanley's innovative playing, which combined a distinctive slap-pop style with fluid finger-style work informed by his acoustic playing, was a required assignment. Although School Days, with its catchy signature song, is perhaps the most listened to of his albums, it is on Journey to Love, Clarke's second solo offering for Columbia, that his muse is most confidently and persuasively displayed. He is assisted in this worthy endeavor by a whole carload of world-class talent. Jeff Beck shows up for two songs, the title track and the appropriately-titled "Hello Jeff." His lead guitar is as expressive and unpredictable as ever, capable of bringing a smile to the face of the most jaded listener. Return to Forever bandmates Chick Corea and Lenny White also turn up, as well as fellow traveler Mahavishnu John McLaughlin. Not to be overlooked are the tremendous talents of keyboardist George Duke, drummer Steve Gadd, and guitarist David Sancious. The caliber of the musicians aside, Journey of Love is full of great tunes, great grooves, and absolutely amazing bass playing. Clarke moves from percussive slapping to almost guitaristic chording to full-speed improvising with bewildering ease. Make no mistake about it, this is one of the finest fusion albums to come out of the 1970s, and it is the single best demonstration of the skills and the sound that make Clarke one of the most important figures to ever pick up the instrument.

Alongside School Days, this is perhaps Clarke's finest work. From beginning to end, it is simply a very joyful and magnetic listening experience. The infectious and sometimes beautiful grooves are just so impressively done. Clarke's playing is fantastic, managing to be hypnotic at certain moments, and frenetic at others without being headache-inducing, and overall, it's just a very well put together album that will definitely benefit from repeat listens. This is one of the best jazz fusion albums of all time. It's equally great in its slow spots as it is in its speedy spots, and Clarke and the other musicians who show up on it simply do stunning work.

Track listing

All tracks composed by Stanley Clarke; except where indicated
  1. "Silly Putty" (4:52)
  2. "Journey to Love" (4:52)
  3. "Hello Jeff" (5:16)
  4. "Song to John, Part 1" (Clarke, Corea) (4:22)
  5. "Song to John, Part 2" (Clarke, Corea) (6:09)
  6. "Concerto for Jazz/Rock Orchestra, Parts 1-4" (14:25)

Personnel

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