Stanley Clarke (born 30 June 1951) is an American jazz musician and composer known for his innovative and influential work on double bass and bass guitar as well as his numerous film and television scores.
Clarke was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was introduced to the bass as a schoolboy "by accident", when he arrived late on the day instruments were distributed to students and acoustic bass was one of the few remaining selections. Having graduated from the Philadelphia Academy of Music, he moved to New York City in 1971 and began working with famous bandleaders and musicians including Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, Gato Barbieri, Joe Henderson, Chick Corea, Pharoah Sanders, Gil Evans and Stan Getz.
Clarke is 6'3" and his Alembic basses tend to be short-scale (in this case, 30-3/4" versus a typical 34"), so in his hands, the Alembic seems almost like a toy. As a result, having large hands and powerful musculature in his arms and hands gives him extra command over the instrument in terms of power, range, and speed. Many of the figures that Clarke plays are very difficult for a smaller bassist to play on a larger bass.
During this period he joined the jazz fusion group Return to Forever led by pianist Chick Corea. The group became one of the most important fusion groups and released several successful and musically highly varied albums. Clarke also started his solo career in the early 1970s and released a number of albums under his own name. His most famous album is School Days (1976), which, along with Jaco Pastorius's self-titled debut, is held up as one of the greatest bass albums in the history of jazz. His albums Stanley Clarke (1974) and Journey to Love (1975) are also notable.
In the late 70's, Clarke was playing Rick Turner's first graphite neck on his Alembic "Black Beauty" bass, and he decided to have an all composite bass made. He commissioned Designer/Luthier Tom Lieber to design and build this bass, having purchased one of Lieber's Spider grinder basses in 1979. In 1980 Lieber and Clarke formed the Spellbinder Corporation and produced a limited run of fifty Spellbinder basses. One left handed bass was built as a gift from Stanley to Paul McCartney. After the run the molds were destroyed.
In 2007 Clarke once again teamed up with Lieber and Rick Tuner to reform the Spellbinder Corp. and produce a limited run of 125 of the Spellbinder Bass II, which Clarke is currently playing on the RTF reunion tour.
He formed Animal Logic with rock drummer Stewart Copeland, after the break-up of The Police, and singer-songwriter Deborah Holland. The trio had success with their first album and world tour but the follow-up sold poorly, and the band did not continue.
Other notable (recording/touring) project involvements are: (1979) Jeff Beck, (1979) Ron Wood's New Barbarians, (1981) Clarke/Duke Project with George Duke, (1989) Animal Logic with Stewart Copeland, (1993-94) The Superband with Larry Carlton, Billy Cobham, Najee & Deron Johnson, (1995) The Rite of Strings with Jean-Luc Ponty and Al Di Meola and (1999) Vertu’ with Lenny White.
In addition to touring with his own band, Clarke continues to enjoy the challenge of collaborating with other artists on tour. During the summer and fall of 2007 he toured with his Rites of Strings comrades, Al DiMeola and Jean-Luc Ponty. In addition to a date in France and dates in the Eastern US, the tour includes an extensive appearances in South America.
In 2006 Clarke joined old friend, George Duke for a 40-city tour of festivals and performing arts centers. This was the first time Clarke and Duke had toured together in fifteen years. The duo first teamed to form the Clarke/Duke Project in 1981. They scored a Top 20 hit with “Sweet Baby” and recorded three albums. In 2005 Clarke toured as Trio! with legends in their own right, Béla Fleck and Jean Luc Ponty. The U.S. and European tour received glowing reviews and standing ovations where ever they performed. In fact, Trio! was nominated for a 2006 Relix Jammy Award in the category of “Tour of the Year."
Early in 2007, Heads Up International through Clarke's own Roxboro Entertainment Group released a DVD entitled Night School: An Evening with Stanley Clarke and Friends (HUDV-7118). The star-studded 90-minute presentation chronicles the third annual Stanley Clarke Scholarship Concert, recorded at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA, in October 2002. Clarke strongly feels that those who have had success in realizing their own vision have a duty to help others in their struggle to emerge. Putting thoughts into action, he developed a way to offer scholarships to selected students in financial need, who excel in music.
The Night School DVD scholarship concert features diverse group of musicians that include Stevie Wonder, Wallace Roney, Bela Fleck, Sheila E., Stewart Copeland, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea, Wayman Tisdale, Marcus Miller and others. Night School captures performances that range from straight-ahead jazz to full-tilt rock fusion to a twenty-two-piece string ensemble. The DVD has garnered outstanding reviews since its release.
Since the 80s, Stanley has been turning his energy to film and television scoring. He is currently scoring the ABC Family Channel popular and critically acclaimed series “Lincoln Heights,” in addition to writing the show's theme song.
Starting in television, Clarke was nominated for an Emmy for his score for “Pee Wee's Playhouse” and his title themes for “Hull High” and “Knightwatch.” He won the BMI Film Music Award for Oscar-nominated film Boyz ‘n the Hood. He is composer, orchestrator, conductor and performer on such iconic films as What's Love Got To Do With It?, Passenger 57, Poetic Justice, Little Big League, Romeo Must Die, The Transporter, Undercover Brother and Roll Bounce. Clarke received critical acclaim as the composer of the hit Showtime series Soul Food. Altogether Clarke has over 65 film credits. He has become one of the elite in-demand composers in Hollywood. The 1995 release, Stanley Clarke at the Movies, bears stunning witness to this. He is in the process of putting together a second compilation of his film scores, Stanley Clarke at the Movies: Two.
Regarding his composing, Clarke said, “Film has given me the opportunity to compose music not normally associated with myself. It has given me a chance to conduct orchestras and arrange music for various types of ensembles. It's been a diverse experience for me musically, utilized all my skills and made me a more complete musician.“
In October 2006 Clarke was honored with Bass Player magazine's Lifetime Achievement Award. Bass greats Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten presented the award at a ceremony at New York City's Millennium Broadway Hotel. A multi Grammy award winner, Stanley was the very first “Jazzman of the Year” for Rolling Stone magazine, won Music Award - Best Bassist from Playboy magazine for 10 straight years, and is a member of Guitar Player magazine's “Gallery of Greats”. He was honored with the key to the city of Philadelphia and put his hands in cement as a 1999 inductee into Hollywood's “Rock Walk” on Sunset Boulevard. Clarke has won every Reader's Poll and Critic's Poll out there. In 2004 he was featured in Los Angeles magazine as one of the Top 50 Most Influential People.
Due to Clarke's status in the music world as well as his ability to articulate about music in a way that all can understand, BET-J launched a series hosted by Clarke entitled, On the Road with Stanley Clarke in June 2006. The series consists of seven episodes titled: “Origins of Black Music,” “That Philly Sound,” “Jazz Beyond the Classroom,” “Black Music in Film, Television & Theatre,” “Jazz,” “Black Music in Film – The Next Generation” and “Bass to Bass.” Some of his guests include Terence Blanchard, Marcus Miller, George Duke, The Tate Brothers, Gamble & Huff and academics Dr. Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje and Dr. Cheryl Keyes from the Department of Ethnomusicology at UCLA among many others. “On the Road with Stanley Clarke” episodes are set to rerun on BET-J in 2007.
In 2008, Stanley was presented with a Doctorate in Fine Arts from his alma mater, the University of the Arts.
He has three children, Chris, and two step children Natasha and Frank.
What's Love Got To Do With It (The Tina Turner Story) 1993 directed by Brian Gibson
Romeo Must Die 2000 directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak
The Transporter 2002 directed by Luc Besson, Louis Leterrier, Corey Yuen
Poetic Justice 1993 directed by John Singleton
Passenger 57 1992 directed by Kevin Hooks
The Five Heartbeats 1991 directed by Robert Townsend
Little Big League 1994 directed by Andrew Scheinman
Undercover Brother 2002 directed by Malcolm D. Lee
Tap 1989 directed by Nick Castle
Higher Learning 1995 directed by John Singleton
Roll Bounce 2005 directed by Malcolm D. Lee
Undisputed 2002 directed by Walter Hill
The Best Man 1999 directed by Malcolm D. Lee
Panther 1995 directed by Mario Van Peebles
Eddie 1996 directed by Steve Rash
Watch It 1993 directed by Tom Flynn
B*A*P*S 1997 directed by Robert Townsend
Bleeding Hearts 1994 directed by Gregory Hines
The Book Of Love 1990 directed by Robert Shaye
Cool as Ice 1991 directed by David Kellogg
One Down Two To Go 1983 directed by Fred Williamson
Dangerous Ground 1999 directed by Darrell Roodt
Down in the Delta 1998 directed by Maya Angelou
Into the Sun 2005 directed by mink
The Show 1995 directed by Brian Robbins
Sprung 1997 directed by Rusty Cundieff
Like Mike 2: Streetball 2006 directed byDavid Nelson
Red Hot 1993 Paul Haggis
“Lincoln Heights” (Series) 2006 – present ABC Family Channel
“Pee Wee's Playhouse” (Selected Episodes) 1986 directed byBill Freiberger, Steven Johnson, Guy J. Loutham, William Orr, Paul Reubens
“Soul Food” (Series) 2000 - 2004 directed by Felicia D. Henderson
“Tales from the Crypt” 1990 directed by Jack Sholder, Joel Silver (Episode: “Fitting Punishment”)
“A Man Called Hawk” (Series) 1989 directed by Mario DiLeo, Bill Duke, Harry Falk, Winrich Kolbe, Stan Latham, Sigmund Neufeld Jr, Virgil W. Vogel
“Knightwatch” (Series) 1988 -1989 directed by Sharon Miller, Kevin Rodney Sullivan
“Hull High” (Series) 1990 directed by Gil Grant, Bruce Bilson, Kenny Ortega, Steven Robman
“The Cherokee Kid” 1996 directed by Paris Barclay
“The Red Sneakers” 2002 directed by Gregory Hines
“Final Shot: The Hank Gathers Story” 1992 directed by Charles Braverman
“The Color of Friendship” 2000 directed by Kevin Hooks
“The Kid Who Loved Christmas” 1990 directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman
“The Court Martial of Jackie Robinson” 1990 directed by Larry Peerce
“Blue Bayou” 1990 directed by Karen Arthur
“Dangerous Pursuit” 1990 directed by Sandor Stern
“Rocky Marciano” 1999 directed by Charles Winkler
“The Loretta Claiborne Story” 2000 directed by Lee Grant
“Funny Valentines” 1999 directed by Julie Dash
“Tales from the Whoop” 1990 directed by Whoopi Goldberg
“If You Believe” 1999 directed by Alan Metzger
“Relentless: Mind of a Killer” 1993 directed by John Patterson
“Boy Meets Girl” 1993 directed by Kevin Rodney Sullivan
“Love Kills” 1998 directed by Brian Grant
“On the Line” 1998 directed by Elodie Keene
“Road to Galveston” 1996 directed by Michael Toshiyuki Uno
“Royce” 1994 directed by Rob Holcomb
“Out on the Edge” 1989 directed by John Pasquin
“Prison Stories: Women on the Inside” 1991 directed by Donna Deitch, Joan Micklin Silver, Penelope Spheeris
“Murder She Wrote: The Celtic Riddle” 2003 directed by Anthony Pullen Shaw
“The Big Time” 2002 directed by Paris Barclay
“Little John” (Hallmark Hall of Fame) 2002 directed by Dick Lowry
“Murder She Wrote: The Last Free Man” 2001 directed by Anthony Pullen Shaw
“Static Shock” (Series) 2000 directed by Denys Cowan, Dan Riba
“Waynehead” (Series) 1996-1997 directed by Damon Wayans
“Cool Like That Christmas” 1994 directed by David Feiss, Swinton O. Scott III
“Michael Jackson: Remember the Time” 1992 directed by John Singleton
Meet Bob Shaye 2004 directed by Jeffery Schwartz
Maryanne e gli altri (Italy) 1995 directed by Ita Cesa, Giuseppe Selva