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The Stanley Clarke Band, Zony Mash at Vogue Theatre

Wednesday 08th, July 2015 / 15:53
By Erin Jardine
The Stanley Clarke Band at Vogue Theatre. Photo: Sarah Whitlam

The Stanley Clarke Band at Vogue Theatre.
Photo: Sarah Whitlam

June 23, 2015

VANCOUVER — Entering the Vogue for the second night in a row (following Snarky Puppy the night before) I instantly noticed the difference in demographic from the evening prior. The promise of bass virtuoso Stanley Clarke drew dedicated fans. There was charged chatter of audience members recalling seeing Clarke perform in 1975 at a warehouse somewhere deep in Brazil. Surprisingly, the volume of the audience did not settle when the MC of the Vancouver International Jazz Fest took the stage and thanked the sponsors. I laughed to myself remembering how silent the younger crowd was during the entirety of the Snarky Puppy show.

Zony Mash took a different approach to jazz fusion, with long hair and rock-oriented guitar riffs throughout their set. Every member of the band appeared to have emerged from a drastically different musical background. Leader and keyboardist, Wayne Horvitz did not dominate with his organ tones; rather, he maintained a supporting role through well structured songs that shone a light on the rock sounds of Keith Lowe (bass) and Timothy Young (guitar). One of Lowe’s pedal settings was much too loud and made earplugs a startling necessity in the latter half of their performance, a hindrance on what was otherwise a fun psychedelic jazz set.

The Stanley Clarke Band at Vogue Theatre. Photo: Sarah Whitlam

The Stanley Clarke Band at Vogue Theatre.
Photo: Sarah Whitlam

Stanley Clarke’s command of his instrument is something so deliciously rare in the world of bassists, and witnessing him and his band live was a night to remember in two vastly different ways. The audience was in awe of his band, a gathering of three young musicians who were all prodigies in their own right. Beka Gochiashvili on piano was stunning, as he held a youthful energy and bounced on the piano bench along with his hands. Clarke introduced him as a nineteen-year-old from Georgia (the country, not the state). Michael Mitchell, possibly the loudest jazz drummer in all of Jazz Fest, was also youthful at a mere twenty years old.

Though Clarke gained fame for appropriating the electric bass for jazz, he spent the majority of the set displaying his mastery of his upright bass. Clarke mentioned his love for Brazil and played the tune “A Brazilian Love Affair,” a classic dedication to George Duke. The set was sandwiched by electric bass, and the instrument made an appearance during Clarke’s encore where he played the popular “School Days.”

It was a show with heavy percussion from all instrumental angles. I had never heard such tight-sounding percussion coming from an upright bass, and such delicate mastery of piano from a youngster. Clarke deeply thanked the audience, and emphasized the age of his supporting band; “Support young musicians!” were his last words to the Jazz Fest audience as he strode from the stage.

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