Railhead, Boulder Station 8-15-03
by Don Brown Sr.
The Jazz Internet
Las Vegas Jazz n' Blues
Las Vegas Blues
If you would ask any musician from any genre who their favorite bassist is, the name Stanley Clarke would appear often. Stanley and his band, Armand Sabel-Lecco on bass, Eric Carter on synthesizer, Nick Smith on keyboards, Mads Tolling on violin, and Gerry Brown on drums, have hit the road. They made a tour stop at Boulder Station's Railhead, one of the best rooms in Vegas.
Playing to a packed house, their highly anticipated show got underway. During the second number, Clarke introduced his band. Carter was first to solo, showing off his nimble fingers. It was Jean-Luc Ponte who told Stanley about the young violinist Tolling. Then the 23 year old Tolling proved that he's worth talking about. Sabel-Lecco soon followed. Armand has the hardest job in the band, trying to keep up with his boss. Even with that pressure, he showed the reason Clarke asked him to join his band. Nick Smith took a turn before drummer Gerry Brown got to lay his down.
The Charles Mingus ode to a friend called "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" again showed off this amazing band. This time it was Clarke who was pulling out all the stops and showing the crowd why I believe he has six fingers on each hand. Most times he moves them so fast, all you see is a blur. The band then did an old number that Stanley and Gerry recorded at Electric Ladyland in the early '70's.
The band left the stage while Clarke grabbed a standup bass and showed that he could blow your mind with that too. The set finished with "School Days", which might be Clarke's most famous number. Stanley and Mads traded riffs that were so stunning, it made your brain hurt trying to absorb it all.
A well deserved standing ovation brought the band back quickly for an encore. Parliament's "Mothership Connection" had the band getting funky while Clarke had the fans singing the song. When the band finally left the stage, the crowd just shook their heads in disbelief at what they had just seen.
Photography by DJ Dinosaur copyright © 2003 Brown Ink
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