With nearly 40 years of recording behind him, you can bet jazz bassist Stanley Clarke has some great stories, about his music and his instruments.
One of those is found on his latest solo album, “The Stanley Clarke Band” (due out June 15), on which the Philadelphia-born virtuoso pays homage to an earlier employer on the specially written track “Sonny Rollins.” The acoustic double bass Clarke plays on the song belonged to the legendary Charles Mingus — and was a gift from jazz aficionado and acoustic bass collector Bill Cosby.
“I was in this PR company’s office in Beverly Hills (Calif.) many, many years ago,” recalls Clarke, 58, whose credits also include Stan Getz, Pharoah Sanders, Return to Forever and Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richards’ New Barbarians. “All my acoustic basses were in the repair shop, and I was complaining about it, and the (agent) said, ‘Here, I’m gonna call somebody’ — and it was Bill Cosby!
“He must have 25 of the most valuable acoustic basses in the world, so I said to him, ‘Man, you got all these basses up there collecting dust. I don’t even have one and you can’t even play!’ We laughed, and then some months later I was at home and this huge truck pulled up in the driveway and delivered this huge box ... It was Mingus’ bass, from Bill. He said ‘Enjoy it,’ and I’ve been enjoying it ever since.”
Clarke adds that while the instrument is “not my normal sound,” it was the perfect complement to what he wanted for “Sonny Rollins.”
“It’s like it’s from another time,” Clarke says. “When I play it, it transforms the room, like you’re in the ‘30s or ‘40s. It’s a 300-year-old bass, y’know? It’s really something special.”
The Stanley Clarke Band featuring Hiromi performs at 8 p.m. Friday, June 11, at Sound Board in the MotorCity Casino, 2901 Grand River Blvd., Detroit. Tickets are $29 and $32. Call 313-237-7711 or visit www.motorcitycasino.com.
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