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Clark Sommers

Clark Sommers is a Grammy Award winning bassist steeped in the jazz tradition. Sommers, born September 7th, 1977, raised in Lake Forest, Illinois, is an artist dedicated to cultivating his own unique sound by expanding on the work of past masters while keeping an ear towards the future. Over the last 15 years Clark has performed all over the world and is featured on more than 40 albums with renowned artists such as Kurt Elling, Cedar Walton, Ernie Watts, The Mighty Blue Kings, Marilyn McCoo, Marvin Hamlisch, Kevin Mahogany, Peter Bernstein, Michael Weiss, Ira Sullivan, Frank Wess and Charles McPherson among others. ”Clark Sommers rings true and honest in tone. The golden color pours a solid foundation to the timber of the group.” – All About Jazz.

Clark began his musical career in 1990 when his parents bought him a drum set for Christmas. He made the switch to electric bass when his seventh grade buddies formed a rock band that didn’t have a bassist. Only after hearing the slinky bass lines on Led Zeppelin and James Brown records did he realize the power of bass in music. Early in high school Clark had the opportunity to study with James Cammack; long time bassist of the iconic pianist Ahmad Jamal. “I learned so much from Jim. He had a definitive personality on the bass…it was like he was speaking through the instrument, really communicating. He had an infectious groove that was undeniable. He taught me the role of the bass and how paramount it was in every musical context.” Six months after intense study with Cammack, Clark was playing with local musicians more than twice his age. Shortly after that he made the transition to the upright-bass and began spending his lunch hour practicing on a school bass in the orchestra room. By his junior year, Clark was playing jazz at clubs, private parties and restaurants throughout the suburbs of Chicago. Occasionally, Cammack would let Clark sit in on his gigs with some of Chicago’s finest musicians. During his senior year in high school, Clark was chosen as the bassist for the Midwest Grammy band and was nominated for the All-American Grammy band.

After high school Sommers enrolled at DePaul University in Chicago where he quickly began playing around town with many older, professional musicians. “Being an aspiring bassist at that particular time in Chicago offered so many opportunities for growth. One night I’d play jazz. The next night I’d play with a singer-songwriter. The next night, American roots music or a Latin Folk band…it was all music to me. There was so much work and I was hungry to play as much as I possibly could.” In addition to studying bass with Larry Gray at DePaul, Clark was mentored by another of Chicago’s great bassists, Kelly Sill. “Kelly had a profound effect on how I listened to music and his truly original style of playing really influenced the way I play. He encouraged a deeper investigation in to my own way of accompanying a band by being yself. He also taught me a lot about piano harmony.” At that time Clark was fortunate to play regularly with the likes of saxophone giant Lin Hallidy and Chicago piano greats: Jodie Christian and Ron Perrillo. “It was the first time I had the chance to play with authentic jazz musicians on that level-it was the real thing. Playing with Ron illustrated a world of possibilities for me in music. I would say that playing with him was the closest ‘spiritual’ experience I had playing music. He also profoundly influenced my writing” Due to a busy gig schedule Sommers withdrew from DePaul in June of 1997 to focus his energy exclusively on playing the bass. In late summer of 1997 Clark joined an acclaimed local rhythm and blues band called the Mighty Blue Kings and toured the U.S. and Europe for the ensuing two years.

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Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

The Assumption

Self Produced
2022

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Life in Time

Origin Records
2022

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With Love, From...

Outside in Music
2022

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The New Black

Lair Hill Records
2022

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Noli Me Tángere

Next Level
2022

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Urbanessence

Origin Records
2022

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Momentum

From: Urbanessence
By Clark Sommers

Little Gold Fish

From: Life in Time
By Clark Sommers

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