Stanley Clarke: Desert Song


Desert Song


Stanley Clarke (acoustic bass)


School Days (Epic EK 36975)

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Stanley Clarke (acoustic bass), John McLaughlin (acoustic guitar),

Milton Holland (conga, triangle)


Composed by Stanley Clarke


Recorded: New York, June 1976


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

Fusion fans have always been an open lot. While many jazz fans would never accept the new fusion sounds, fusion fans themselves were open to jazz from the very beginning of the jazz-rock movement. Sure they loved to have their eardrums assaulted and their insides vibrated to the loudest and fastest. But they were also quite patient and appreciative of musical virtuosity. And those fusion fans who took the time to learn where fusion was coming from started going back and listening to the old jazz records to obtain a foundation for what they were now digging. That's how I started. It is this open mindset that allowed fusion fans to enjoy a tune such as this.

Performed acoustically, "Desert Song" is the antithesis of a stereotypical jazz-rock piece. Clarke begins with some slow, low bowing atop McLaughlin's minor comping chords and circular arpeggios. As Clarke moves up the neck, the melody becomes more intense. McLaughlin develops a mantra-like riff that will permeate the rest of the song. The two take impressive solos, with Clarke now bowless and McLaughlin playing his scalloped fretboard guitar allowing him to bend notes as on an Indian vina. Clarke again picks up his bow as he and McLaughlin reprise the hypnotic riff, kept company by Holland's sparse percussion. "Desert Song" may not lift fusion-heads out of their seats screaming, but it sure would satisfy their need to be in communion with instrumental virtuosos.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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