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Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014
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Clarke tells tales before Sunshine Music and Blues Fest


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It’s about time for Stanley Clarke to write his memoir. The brilliant bassist knows it and is about to follow a number of lionized veteran musicians, who have recently penned their autobiographies.

Pete Townshend and Keith Richards have crafted New York Times best-sellers. Each have books full of amusing, surprising anecdotes. Clarke is ready to join the club.

“I’m looking forward to writing the book since I have a lot of stories to tell,” Clarke said during a phone call from Malibu while nursing the flu. “I was looking at this picture that was (in a newspaper) from so long ago about a story on (Philadelphia Flyers icon) Bobby Clarke but with a photo of me, a black guy with a big afro.”

Funny stuff considering that Bobby Clarke, a diminutive Manitoba native who is as porcelain as the teeth that were once part of his smile was confused for the tall African-American who was born in Philadelphia. But apparently somebody confused two guys with the same surname. One with the first name Stanley and the other, a Stanley Cup winner.

The stories are endless for Clarke.

Clarke’s son went to school with the Kardashian brood. “They were really nice kids,” Clarke said. “I remember going to basketball games with Robert Kardashian, who only pokes his head in sometimes during their show (“Keeping Up With The Kardashians”). He was a great kid.”

Expect plenty of entertaining stories in the upcoming tome. However, most of it will be filled with music tales.

Clarke, 62, has been an adventurous player for generations. The versatile virtuoso has been in rock, R&B and jazz bands. His career highlights are almost too numerous to mention.

There are the early gigs with such jazz legends as Stan Getz and Art Blakey. There’s the “Clarke/Duke” project, with George Duke, which delivered the funk. And of course there is Return To Forever, the supergroup that also features Chick Corea. There’s a bunch of movie scores, endless jams, and there is his contemporary work. Last week Clarke was recording with innovative drummer Stewart Copeland of Police fame.

“I remember the days hanging around with Stewart Copeland before there was the Police,” Clarke said. “I remember when he was the tour manager for Joan Armatrading and she opened for Return To Forever.”

Back then, which was nearly 40-years ago, Copeland played with a forgettable band dubbed Curved Air. “But you knew there was something special about him,” Clarke said. “And then he met Andy and Gordon. I remember Gordon before he became Sting. What a bunch of talented musicians.”

The same can be said for Clarke. His gifts are obvious. The late music industry titan Ahmet Ertegun was enamored of Clarke’s skills. The founder and president of Atlantic Records initially talked music with Clarke in 1972.

“I thought about that the first time I watched the movie ‘Ray,’ ” Clarke said. “The guy that played Ahmet was exactly what he was like. He and his brother (Nesuhi Ertegun) loved music. They loved jazz. Their record company was built on jazz. I remember meeting Ahmet, and he asked me where I come from. I told him about playing with Stan Getz and Art Blakely. But I also told him that I listen to Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles. But all of that stuff came together for me. I’m someone who loves music of all kinds, and that impacted the kind of music I’ve always made. I’ve written so many kinds of music, and it’s still pouring out after all of these years.”

Clarke is part of the Sunshine Music and Blues Festival, which is slated for Sunday at Vinoy Waterfront Park. Clarke will perform on a bill, which includes The Tedeschi Trucks Band, Galactic, Leon Russell and Hot Tuna.

“My favorite thing is to do festivals,” Clarke said. “I love that the audience is diverse. It’ll be fun. It’s in Florida. It’ll be a good time as usual.”

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