East River Drive

by: Stanley Clarke

Albums came less frequently from Stanley Clarke in the 1990s as film scores took up more and more of his time. Not only that, the ideas and functions of film music play a large role in East River Drive, where selections come as often as not in the form of cue-like vamps, as well as two actual themes from Clarke's scores for the films Poetic Justice and Boyz N the Hood. Oddly enough, Clarke's music benefits from his film immersion, for his compositional ideas are sharper and more sophisticated here, and he applies them to a range of electric music idioms. "Zabadoobeebe," "Illegal," and "I'm Home Africa" bear mild African influences, the elegant "Christmas in Rio" has a slight whiff of Brazil, and "Lords of the Low Frequencies" is an extraordinary slap-happy duel between Clarke and fellow virtuoso Armand Sabal-Lecco. As before, Clarke gets help from some of his famous friends -- among them are Gerald Albright, George Howard, Hubert Laws, Jean-Luc Ponty, Poncho Sanchez, and the inevitable George Duke -- and he most ably splits the string arranging tasks with George DelBarrio. This is a mature statement from a most accomplished musician, who was still young at 42. ~ Richard S. Ginell

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