VOICES Notes and news on Contemporary Jazz releases
12 AUG 08 JONATHAN WIDRAN
As if Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten didn't have enough Grammy Awards to last a hard-groovin' lifetime, the three bass gods (under the name SMV) have figured out a way to transcend nearly everything they've ever done solo on Thunder, a remarkably inventive all-star trio of low frequencies.
On their own, they have spent the last three decades completely redefining the potential of the electric bass. They've been part of our collective jazz, R&B and fusion consciousness for so long that we almost forget that Clarke is actually the elder statesman here. He was jamming with Return to Forever when Miller was 13 and Wooten was just 8!
Clarke says, "The biggest hurdle was to make a record with three basses that would still be as musical as possible." Yet all are stellar composers, and tracks like Clarke's collectively autobiographical "Maestros de las Frequencias Bajas," Miller's "Thunder" and Wooten's "Hillbillies on a Quiet Afternoon" are as catchy as they are slammin'. Melodic support is lent by Chick Corea, George Duke, and "Patches" Stewart, while the dark tonalities are balanced by Clarke's high register upright on the classically tinged "Milano."
Wooten's long simmering collaboration idea gelled after he and his compadres played together for the first time in October 2006 at the Bass Player Live concert in NYC. That night, Clarke received the Bass Player Lifetime Achievement award, and perhaps more importantly, the confidence that spurred the sessions that have made SMV one of the big jazz events of 2008.