Stanley Clarke, Biréli Lagrène, Jean-Luc Ponty

Stanley Clarke, Biréli Lagrène, Jean-Luc Ponty

Stanley Clarke

As you’d hope from an album featuring three giants of jazz, this disc is full of passionate playing, technique that forces you to shake your head and smile at the same time, and interplay that makes each cut a treasure.

It’s an interesting grouping – just violin, bass, and guitar – but it works wonderfully with these players. Stanley Clarke supplies some stylish backing for Biréli Lagrène’s solos, making cuts like the ballad “Too Young To Go Steady” a tasty treat.
When Jean-Luc Ponty solos, the guitarist and bassist supply a rhythm-section feel that sounds more like a quintet than a string trio. And all the players are playing acoustic instruments, so the power displayed is that much more impressive.

The trio by nature hints at Gypsy jazz at times, especially when Lagrène and Ponty mix their instruments together. That said, they turn the Django Reinhardt classic “Nuages” into a Latin-tinged tune with wonderful solos all around. Bop informs “Bit Of Burd,” funk being the basis for “To And Fro,” and the blues on an incendiary version of “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.”

A lot of times these albums are one-offs. Hopefully that’s not the case here.

This article originally appeared in VG‘s May ’16 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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