D-Stringz offers energetic mix of old and new
By David Sands
December 8, 2015
Stanley Clarke’s new release, D-Stringz, takes the acclaimed bassist on a journey to the acoustic side for a spirited collaboration with two beloved French virtuosos, violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and and guitarist Biréli Lagrène.
The roots of the project stretch back to three years ago, when they performed together at a Paris concert celebrating Ponty’s 50 years as a recording artist. Clarke and Ponty had worked together prior to that, putting out a well-received album called The Rite of Strings with guitarist Al Di Meola back in 1995, but their celebratory performance at Paris’ Chatelet Theatre in 2012 marked the first time the three had shared a stage together.
Although they only played for 20 minutes, their five-song set deeply impressed the concert’s organizer François Lacharme, a well-respected figure in French jazz circles. Their stirring performance inspired Lacharme to sit down with Jean-Philippe Allard, Jazz Director of Universal Music France and General Manager for Impulse! Records, to talk about capturing their music together as a trio.
Recorded last year at ICP studios in Brussels, D-Stringz is the result of these fruitful beginnings. Whereas The Rite of Strings had Clarke and Ponty taking a jazz-rock direction, the new album is more of a straight-ahead jazz record that mixes their own material with playfully reconfigured renditions of jazz classics.
Clarke contributes two of his own compositions to the album: the bebop infused “Bit of Burd” and a new version of his song “Paradigm Shift,” which he originally wrote to commemorate President Barack Obama’s election.
The bass maestro’s presence is felt especially strongly during a walking bassline on the trio’s rendition of Coltrane’s “Blue Train” and on their bossa nova interpretation of Django Reinhardt’s “Nuages.” Other classics explored by the trio include Josef Zawinul’s “Mercy Mercy Mercy,” which was a hit for Cannonball Adderly, and Jimmy McHugh and Harold Adamson’s ballad, “Too Old to Go Steady,” which appeared memorably on Coltrane’s 1963 album Ballads.
2 To and Fro
3 Too Young To Go Steady
4 Bit of Burd
6 Childhood Memories
7 Blue Train
8 Paradigm Shift
9 Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
10 One Take
Artist: Stanley Clarke, Biréli Lagrène, Jean-Luc Ponty
Release Date: November 6, 2015
D-Stringz is available here:
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