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Stanley Clarke Biography

Home > Music > C > Clarke, Stanley > Biography

Birth Name: Stanley Clarke
Born: 1951/06/30
Birth Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Years Active: 1966-present
Genres: Jazz, Jazz Fusion, Funk, Rock, Pop, R&B

Stanley Clarke was born on June 30, 1951 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is a jazz musician and music composer. He is most well-known for his work with the band 'Return to Forever,' and his work as a bandleader in several trios and ensembles throughout his career. Clarke's love for music began in music class at school, where he picked up the bass. After studying music in college, Clarke moved to New York City in 1971, where he began working with famous musicians, Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, Gato Barbieri, Joe Henderson, Chick Corea, Pharoah Sanders, Gil Evans and Stan Getz. Around this time, Clarke joined the jazz fusion group 'Return to Forever,' with pianist and Chick Corea. Despite the group achieving mainstream popularity and moderate success, Clarke embarked on a solo career in the early 1970s. One of his most well-known solo albums was “School Days” in 1976. Clarke spent most of the 1980s focusing on television and film scores. Of note was the ABC series

“Lincoln Heights.”

Clarke started his career scoring for the ABC network series, “A Man Called Hawk.” From there Clarke moved into composing, working as a orchestrator conductor. Some of Clarke's most well-known pieces of work include scores for the feature films: “Boyz n the Hood,” “What's Love Got to Do with It,” “Passenger 57,” “Higher Learning,” “Poetic Justice,” “The Five Heartbeats,” and “Romeo Must Die.” Clarke is also known for his unique style of playing the upright bass with his fingers partially hooked underneath the strings so when released, the strings snap against the frets, producing a unique sound. Clarke worked with rock drummer Stewart Copeland after The Police broke up and formed 'Animal Logic.' Clarke has also collaborated with artists such as, Jeff Beck; Ron Wood; George Duke; Larry Carlton; Billy Cobham; Najee & Deron Johnson; Lenny White and Richie Kotzen. In 2005 Clarke toured as Trio! with banjo player Béla Fleck and Jean-Luc Ponty. The tour was nominated for a 2006 Jammy Award for 'Tour of the Year.' 2006 saw Clarke team up with George Duke for a 40-city tour of festivals and performing arts centers, in addition to be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from Bass Player Magazine for his life- long contribution to music. 2006 also saw Clarke host a series called “On the Road with Stanley Clarke.”

In addition to touring with his own band, Clarke also tours with other artists; 2007 saw him tour with The Rite of Strings comrades, Al DiMeola and Jean-Luc Ponty. Clarke's 2007 album, “The Toys of Men” was his first release in five years; the album peaked at #2 on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz Chart. 2009 saw his release of “Jazz in the Garden,” featuring the Stanley Clarke Trio, consisting of Clarke, pianist Hiromi Uehara, and Lenny White on drums. In 2010 marked the release of “The Stanley Clarke Band,” featuring Ruslan Sirota on keyboards; Ronald Bruner, Jr. on drums; and Hiromi on piano That same year saw The Clarke Band win a Grammy Award for Best 'Contemporary Jazz Album.'