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The Stanley Clarke Trio: Jazz in the Garden

Woodrow Wilkins By

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How do you make one jazz trio different from so many others? Have the diverse stylings of Stanley Clarke on bass, the experience of Lenny White on drums and the adventurous spirit of Hiromi on piano. The result is the Stanley Clarke Trio.

Each member of this ensemble is a leader in his or her own right. Collectively, their collaborations have included such artists as Chick Corea, Taj Mahal, Maynard Ferguson and George Duke. Clarke also is credited with introducing young bass/vocal sensation Esperanza Spalding. Jazz in the Garden is Clarke's first acoustic-trio album as a leader.

"Paradigm Shift (Election Day 2008)" is a Clarke original, written after the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. After a minute-long introduction that shifts into several directions, Clarke establishes the rhythm, punctuated by White's cymbals. Clarke's solo demonstrates his dexterity, engaging in some slap-bass action, and at times exploring the instrument's upper range. The song's climatic end features some high-speed play by Clarke and tom rolls by White.

"Sakura Sakura" is a traditional Japanese folk song. Clarke plays it solo before White and Hiromi come in. The three then do a little exploring. Clarke and White set the pace, while Hiromi leads.

The album closes with a faithful, yet creative take on the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Under the Bridge." Clarke plays the lead on the first pass, but Hiromi takes over on the first verse. The bass is out front during the chorus. On the second verse, Clarke leads, but this time adds some intense riffs. White's subtle hi-hats during the bridge between verse and chorus add an ethereal element. Hiromi then gets in some discordant notes during the middle break, setting up her freely expressive solo. The sound intensifies before all stop.

Clarke has played acoustic bass on many occasions, but this is his first all-acoustic album as a leader. One thing that sets Jazz in the Garden apart from other piano-bass-drum efforts is that the bass is more involved, even when the piano is leading. And having three innovative players like Clarke, Hiromi and White makes it even more special.

Track Listing: Paradigm Shift (Election Day 2008); Sakura Sakura; Sicilian Blue; Take the Coltrane; Wrong Notes; Someday My Prince Will Come; Isotope; Bass Folk Song No. 5 & 6; Global Tweak; Solar; Brain Training; Under the Bridge.

Personnel: Stanley Clarke: acoustic bass; Hiromi: piano; Lenny White: drums.

Title: Jazz in the Garden | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Heads Up International

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