When a bass giant like Stanley Clarke releases a new album, this is always a special event. Clarke's new album isn't foremost entertainment but a message.

“If you study history, and the history of warfare, it boils down to some very simple dynamics,” says Clarke. “When there are disagreements and disputes between countries, people always go back to their toys and how they can use them to intimidate their adversaries. This goes all the way back to the days when we were fighting each other with swords and shields, and even rocks and clubs. It’s just a part of human nature, particularly with men. There’s this basic belief, however flawed as it might be, that the only way you’re really going to get what you want is by conquering someone or something. In those moments in history when we’ve been at war or on the brink of war, the whole idea of just allowing something to be what it is just doesn’t exist.”

The album starts with a six-part suite recurring about this theme. The Toys Of Men is parted into the pieces Draconian, Fear, Chaos, Cosmic Intervention, The Opening Of The Gates and God Light. “When you listen to the song in all of its parts, it has a lot of different emotions going on in it,” Clarke explains. “There’s fear, there’s confusion, there’s chaos, all of those things that we associate with war and destruction. But at the end, in those segments entitled ‘The Opening of the Gates’ and ‘God Light,’ there’s ultimately hope.”

This suite has a certain similarity to Mussorki's Pictures of an Exhibition, especially performed by Emerson, Lake and Palmer in the 80's. One also finds identity with Pat Metheny's music (The Way Up). Dominant factor of this suite is Clarke's bass appearing in its electric and acoustic form. Clarke has a vivid affinity for the violin, here performed by Mads Tolling. As a soloist, he regularly tours as jazz violinist with Stanley Clarke and his touring band. He is also the newest member of the Grammy Award-winning Turtle Island String Quartet.

The short Come On underlines Clarke's inimitable slap bass technique and dexterity. Mads Tolling's violin paints the music in fusionesque colors.

Keyboardist Ruslan Sirota wrote the full-bodied Jerusalem. Sirota was born in 1980 in the Ukraine. In 1990 he moved to Israel where he continued his music education at the Bat-Yam Music Conservatory. From this period he has a strong relationship to the capital city of Israel which he expresses in this gentle melody interpreted by Clarke's warm-blooded acoustic bass.

The interlude Back In The Woods is Clarke's solo on acoustic bass. A tuning to the following song All Over Again featuring singer Esperanza Spalding. "She has a great time feel, she can confidently read the most complicated compositions, and she communicates her upbeat personality in everything she plays,"  says Executive Vice President Gary Burton (Berklee) about Esperanza. "She is definitely headed for a great career, and it will be soon." The song is about a friend of Clarke’s who was forced to leave the U.S. – and the woman he loved – because of his immigration status.

Hmm Hmm is the next solo bass interlude with a bluesy attitude. Bad Asses is one of those pieces which is sparkling in its brilliant and rapid mastership. Clarke's virtuosity is high-acclaimed. Stanley Clarke's genius is without no doubt in the expressiveness and technique of his playing.

When it comes to Funk, Phil Davis is first choice. Phil has been blessed with profound musicianship and creativity. Al Jarreau, Boney James, Alex Bugnon, George Howard, Najee, Walter Beasley, the list of musicians demanding his creativity is endless. On Game Clarke's bass and Davis' keyboards are the right mixture for a big dose of Funk.

 La Cancion de Sofia is dedicated to Clarke's wife Sofia. “She’s a very interesting woman,” he says. “She’s very forward thinking, because she’s an artist, yet very much a traditionalist at the same time. There’s this pull that she constantly experiences between looking toward the future and still having these old-school sensibilities at the same time. This piece just sounds like her.”

With El Bajo Negro Clarke showcases all nuances of his acoustic bass shining under the Spanish sun. Clarke beats the Flamenco rhythm on the body of his instrument while he is performing the bass, all in breathtaking quickness. The crossing to the following tune Broski is seamless.

Châteauvallon 1972 is dedicated to Tony Williams. The open style that this drummer created while with the Miles Davis Quintet in the mid- to late '60s remains quite influential, and he had a long list of accomplishments during the decades that followed. The title reminds at Charles Mingus' live concert which took place in France.

Final track is Bass Folk Song No. 6, an acoustic bass solo tune. “I actually recorded those tracks in my dining room,” says Clarke. “It has a very high ceiling and a lot of wood. I just put the bass in there and rolled tape. I’ve really been practicing with the acoustic bass a lot in the last couple years, and I’ve developed some different techniques and styles. A lot of that has come from touring with Jean-Luc Ponty and Al Di Meola in Rite of Strings. Working with them, I’ve developed a way to play the acoustic bass as a truly solo instrument.”

Clarke's new album The Toys Of Men elucidates his role as innovator who is always compromiselessly searching new soundscapes with inexhaustible curiosity in the best sense.



  • Bio
  • Stanley Clarke's website


  • CD available in
    • all stores

  • Title: The Toys Of Men
    Artist: Stanley Clarke
    Year: 2007
    Length: 0:58:20
    Genre: Fusion
    Label: Heads Up International

    01 The Toys Of Men: Draconian/Fear/Chaos/Cosmic Intervention/The Opening Of The Gates/God Light [11:14]
    02 Come On [3:00]
    03 Jerusalem [6:13]
    04 Back In The Woods [1:25]
    05 All Over Again [5:04]
    06 Hmm Hmm [1:54]
    07 Bad Asses [5:05]
    08 Game [3:18]
    09 La Cancion De Sofia [3:08]
    10 El Bajo Negro [7:45]
    11 Broski [1:57]
    12 Châteauvallon 1972 (Dedicated To Tony Williams) [5:26]
    13 Bass Folk Song No. 6 [2:52]