Stanley Clarke, the colorfully virtuosic bassist best known as a co-founder of the groundbreaking fusion band Return to Forever, is the final Santa Fe act of the 2019 New Mexico Jazz Festival.
He was born in 1951 in Philadelphia and grew up with an interest in classical music. By age 15, his sympathy began to sway toward the jazz world. In 1972, when he was playing in the band of saxophonist Stan Getz, Clarke hooked up with pianist Chick Corea to form Return to Forever. That group’s popularity established Clarke’s credentials as a pioneer of the electric bass in jazz, just preceding Jaco Pastorius’ work in another legendary band of the type, Weather Report.
Clarke has made more than 40 records as a leader and has played as a sideman over the years with Art Blakey, McCoy Tyner, Santana, Keith Richards, and Paul McCartney, to name a few. Along the way, he gained renown for his characteristically energetic and percussive technique on tenor and piccolo bass guitars and electric uprights, as well as on the more traditional double bass and the electric bass.
His most recent album is The Message, released last year on Mack Avenue Records. The score for the 2019 documentary film Halston is another recent credit. Clarke was named artist-in-residence for the 2019 Detroit Jazz Festival, which he plays in late August and early September.
The Stanley Clarke Band plays the Lensic Performing Arts Center, 211 W. San Francisco St., at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 27. Also in the group are Evan Carr, violin; Cameron Graves, piano and keyboards; Sala Nader, tabla; and Shariq Tucker, drums. Tickets are $30-$65 at 505-988-1234 or ticketssantafe.org.