Monday, April 12, 2010

Stanley Clarke at Schermerhorn Symphony Center, 4/9/10

Posted By on Mon, Apr 12, 2010 at 12:50 PM

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The Schermerhorn — we've mentioned how much we love this place, right? Maybe it's because we spend so much time in dingy, bars, or maybe it's because we still resent the illness we picked up at the Muse last time, but the clean, calm elegance of the Schermerhorn feels like we're hanging out in God's living room. And maybe it was just our luck, but they mix a damn strong vodka-tonic. These are the things that earn our love, frankly. Well, that and awesome jazz shows.

Yeah, it was tough to maintain our composure and not go into some sort of screaming nerd-gasm when jazz-fusion/film scoring legend Stanley Clarke kicked off the show with “No Mystery” from Return To Forever's 1975 album of the same name. We weren't the only ones that were on the edge of freaking out — we could see the flutter of stifled air-drums throughout the audience as the occasional “WOOOOO!” cut through the polite reverence. And the audience was great — lots of serious looking jazz cats, scraggly looking prog-cats and obvious season-ticket holders who seemed a little wary of said prog-cats and their faint whiff of pot-smoke/Gentle Giant records. Good times.

Clarke brought a piano-violin-drums trio of twentysomething kids with him that did a pretty good job of keeping up with their leader. Wait, scratch that — those kids did a great job! Drummer Ronald Bruner Jr.'s frequent drum solos were halfway between blast beats and break beats, so pretty much exactly everything we look for in percussion. The pianist and the violinist (whose names we missed, sorry!) were top notch too, but damn that kid can drum! And that's taking into count the weird phase thing that happens to drums in a room that was quite obviously not designed for big booming drums.

One thing that didn't sound strange in the Schermerhorn was Clarke's double bass solo — in fact, we'd say it came as close to sounding perfect as music can. Clarke spent an extended period of time, maybe 10-15 minutes, demonstrating every single cool noise that one can make on a string bass — with or without actually touching the strings. It was a display of instrumental prowess that was not unlike watching a shogun master slicing and dicing an opponent. And it was quite obvious by the ovation that the audience had been slayed. When Clarke came out for the encore and strapped on his electric bass to play his definitive 1976 track “School Days” you could almost hear the splash of baby-batter on hundreds of pairs of Underoos. And then it was over.

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