Stanley Clarke was born June 30, 1951 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was introduced to the bass as a schoolboy when he arrived late on the day instruments were distributed to students and acoustic bass was one of the few remaining selections. He is a graduate of Roxborough High School in Philadelphia. Having graduated from the Philadelphia Musical Academy, (which was absorbed into the University of the Arts in 1985), Stanley Clarke was barely out of his teens when he exploded into the jazz world in 1971. He arrived in New York City and immediately landed jobs with famous bandleaders such as Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, Joe Henderson, Pharaoh Saunders, Gil Evans and Stan Getz among others. As a young prodigy he was immediately recognized for his sense of lyricism and melody, which he had distilled from his bass heroes Charles Mingus, Scott LaFaro and others, as well as non-bass players like John Coltrane.
Clarke fired the bass “shot heard round the world” that started the ‘70s bass revolution and paved the way for all bassists/soloists/bandleaders to follow. In 1974, he released his eponymous Stanley Clarke album, which featured the hit single, “Lopsy Lu.” Two years later, he released School Days, an album whose title track is now a bona fide bass anthem. The song, “School Days,” has since become a must-learn for nearly every up-and-coming bassist, regardless of genre.
Leading the bass liberation movement, Clarke envisioned the bass as a viable, melodic solo instrument positioned at the front of the stage rather than in a background role and he was uniquely qualified to take it there. A pioneer at 25, he became the first jazz-fusion bassist in history to headline tours, sell out shows worldwide and craft albums that achieved gold status. He was also the first bassist in history to double on acoustic and electric bass with equal virtuosity, power and fire. In his ongoing efforts to push the bass to new limits, he invented two new instruments, the piccolo bass and the tenor bass. The piccolo bass is tuned one octave higher than the traditional electric bass. The tenor bass is tuned one fourth higher than standard. Both of these instruments have enabled Clarke to extend his melodic range to higher and more expressive registers.
One of Clarke’s musical visions became a reality in the early 1970’s when he met Chick Corea and eventually formed the seminal electric jazz/fusion band Return to Forever. RTF was a showcase for each of the quartet’s strong musical personalities, composing prowess and instrumental voices. In additions to their recent Grammy Award winning Forever CD, the band recorded eight albums, two of which were certified gold (Return to Forever and the classic Romantic Warrior). They also won a Grammy Award (No Mystery) and received numerous nominations while touring incessantly. In 2011 Clarke reunited with founding members, Chick Corea and Lenny White, for the highly anticipated and extremely successful Return To Forever 2-year, 90-city world tour.
Always in search of new challenges, Clarke turned his boundless creative energy to film and television scoring in the mid-1980s. He has become one of the elite in-demand composers in Hollywood. Starting on the small screen with an Emmy-nominated score for Pee Wee’s Playhouse, he transitioned to the silver screen and now has well over 65 film and television credits to his name. As composer, orchestrator, conductor and performer he has scored such blockbuster films as Boyz ‘N the Hood, What’s Love Got To Do With It?, The Transporter, Romeo Must Die, Passenger 57, Poetic Justice and The Five Heartbeats just to name a few. He even scored the Michael Jackson video Remember the Time, directed by John Singleton. Most recently he scored the 2013 box office buster, Best Man Holiday. Clarke has been nominated for three Emmys and won a BMI Award for Boyz ‘N the Hood. In 2014 he accepted an invitation to become a member of the exclusive Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
“Film has given me the opportunity to write large orchestral scores and to compose music not normally associated with myself,” says Clarke. “It’s given me the chance to conduct orchestras and arrange music for various types of ensembles. It’s been a diverse experience for me musically, made me a more complete musician, and focused my skills completely.” His 1995 release, Stanley Clarke at the Movies, is a testament to this heightened level of musicianship.
In addition to touring with his own band, Clarke has always enjoyed the challenge of collaborating with other artists on tour. Clarke teamed up with keyboardist George Duke in 1981 to form the Clarke/Duke Project. Together they scored a top 20 pop hit with “Sweet Baby,” recorded three albums. Over the last decade he toured with George Duke in 2006 and the Clarke/Duke 4: Bring It Tour in 2012 and 2013, until Duke’s untimely death. Clarke’s involvement in additional projects as leader or active member include: Jeff Beck (world tours, 1979), Keith Richards’ New Barbarians (world tour, 1980), Animal Logic (with Stuart Copeland, two albums and tours, 1989), the “Superband” (with Larry Carlton, Billy Cobham, Najee and Deron Johnson, 1993-1994), The Rite of Strings (with Jean-Luc Ponty and Al Di Meola, 1995 and 2004) Vertu’ (with Lenny White, 1999) and “Trio!” (With Bela Fleck and Jean Luc Ponty, 2005.) In 2008 Clarke teamed up with fellow bass titans Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten – collectively known as S.M.V. – and released Thunder, their earth shaking debut collaboration. In 2012 he toured jazz festivals with Stewart Copeland (Police drummer) in Europe in addition trio dates with Chick Corea and legendary drummer Jack DeJohnette.
Not one to rest on the laurels from his various pursuits as a composer, performer and recording artist of more than 40 albums and 60 film scores, the Fall of 2010 marked Clarke’s launch of his own record label, Roxboro Entertainment Group. This business venture includes music publishing for his own and other musicians’ work, as well as the development of various projects aimed at music education. So far Roxboro Entertainment has released CDs from guitarist Lloyd Gregory, multi-instrumentalist Kennard Ramsey. Keyboardist Sunnie Paxson, Ukrainian-born pianist, arranger and keyboardist Ruslan Sirota and 16-year-old jazz piano prodigy Beka Gochiashvili from Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia. It will soon be releasing singer Natasha Agrama’s CD, The Heart of Infinite Change.
Clarke passionately believes in giving back to help young musicians hone their skills. He and his wife Sofia established The Stanley Clarke Foundation thirteen years ago as a charitable organization, which offers scholarships to talented young musicians each year. Clarke strongly feels that those who have had success in realizing their own vision have a duty to help others in their struggle to emerge. Early in 2007 Clarke released a DVD entitled Night School: An Evening with Stanley Clarke and Friends chronicling the third annual Stanley Clarke Scholarship Concert with proceeds going to the fund. The concert features diverse group of musicians that include Stevie Wonder, Wallace Roney, Bela Fleck, Sheila E., Stewart Copeland, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea, Wayman Tisdale, Marcus Miller and so many more. The DVD has garnered outstanding reviews since its release.
Stanley Clarke, to this day, remains as passionate about music as that young teen prodigy from Philly with big dreams. Like the man himself, his biography is a continuous work in progress. Legend is a word that has been associated with Stanley since he was 25, yet he remains unpretentious, preferring simple pleasures in the peaceful canyons where he resides in Los Angeles.
Bobbi Humphrey has been named “First Lady of the Flute” by the critics and listeners alike and, from the accomplishments in her musical career, deservedly so. For three decades now, Bobbi Humphrey has been playing her special brand of music to audience s around the world. Her professional career began in 1971 when she was the first female signed to Blue Note Records.
Certainly a lady playing a flute must have seemed something of a novelty then. Humphrey proved, however, she was not just a “first” or novelty, but a talent to be reckoned with. For in 1973, her LP, Blues and Blues was not only a huge commercial success, but established a strong crossover market for her. Also, in 1973, she was invited to the prestigious Montreux International Music Festival in Switzerland where Leonard Feather, noted critic of the Los Angeles Times, acclaimed her “the surprise hit of the festival”. Since then Humphrey has continuously proved her sustaining power, for today she is the only successful female urban-pop flutist on the scene. Further proof is the fact that she was acclaimed “Best Female Instrumentalist” (1976 and 1978 to both Billboard and Record World, and “Best Female Vocalist” in Cashbox. This is certainly a milestone for any instrumentalist.
Born in Marlin, Texas and raised in Dallas, Humphrey’s training on flute began in high school and continued through her years at Texas Southern University and Southern Methodist University. It was there that Dizzy Gillespie spotted her when he served as a judge in a school-wide competition. With
Gillespie encouraging her to pursue a career in New York City, Humphrey wrote a letter to New York’s famed Apollo Theater and received a telegram soon afterwards telling her, “We have reserved a spot for you on Amateur Night”. She didn’t take further convincing, nor did she have trouble finding her “spot” in the music industry.
The title of one of her Epic LPs The Good Life, best describes her career. Humphrey has played with the best, ranging from Duke Ellington (her third day in New York) to Lee Morgan to Stevie Wonder (featured on Songs In The Key of Life LP in 1977). Between 1971 and 1976, Bobbi recorded six albums for Blue Note Records. In 1974, she recorded the successful Satin Doll LP.
1977 was another big year for Humphrey. For the third consecutive year she was voted “Best Flutist” in Ebony Magazine Reader’s Poll. She was signed to Epic Records. She was invited back to the Montreux Music Festival., and honored with the Key to New Orleans. It was not only a year of musical growth but of commercial expansion as well, because in 1977 Humphrey formed Bobbi Humphrey Music Company to publish her compositions as well as composers. She also formed Innovative Artist Management to handle her business affairs.
Humphrey has also gone to gather numerous awards and citations for her music. These awards have included the keys to cities for the United States and a Congressional Appointment to the Community Advisory Committee. Also, the business world has recognized Bobbi’s talents in that arena. She has received various awards for her business accomplishments and high ethics from the City of New York, “Dollars and Sense” magazine, and was featured in financial section of Billboard Magazine. However, Humphrey’s longevity on the charts has been her greatest award. Her LP Freestyle was one of the hottest LPs during the summer of ‘78. And with her LP The Good Life, the summer of ‘79 was not only good, but hot! The eighties were a period of rapid creative and business expansion, and community activism.
Whether it is from the stage of Carnegie Hall or an intimate jazz room in Europe or Atlanta live performing remains her first love. However, she enjoys composing and producing musical jingles for several major corporations, such as Halston and Anheuser Busch and doing solo work for the television on such shows as the “Cosby Show”. Though she is petite, one can see that she has the talent and heart as big as the State of Texas. Former New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins says it best, “Bobbi Humphrey’s dedication to artistic excellence is matched only by her social activism and concern for those in need”. This includes her working on various political campaigns, performing at senior citizens homes, doing fundraising concerts for the United Negro College Fund, and speaking before the General Assembly of the United Nations about the Ethiopian famine in the eighties.
Ever growing and seeking new challenges Bobbi produced one of her most exciting and personal LPs entitled “City Beat” in 1989. “City Beat” remained on the Billboard Magazine Black Charts for sixteen weeks. She served as producer, wrote many of the songs and gathered some of her musical friends to share in the treat.
As the beat went on, the nineties’ held the promise of some of Bobbi’s greatest musical and commercial expansion. In 1990 her company Bobbi Humphrey Music, Inc., signed a production agreement with Warner Bros. Records, in which she brought new artists to the label and produced new material. Her agreement with Warner Bros. followed her discovering, and bringing to the attention of Warner Bros. A&R executives, R & B vocalist Tevin Campbell.
Following the success of Bobbi Humphrey Music selling in excess of five million units of the Campbell records, Ms. Humphrey boldly launched her label, Paradise Sounds Records, in 1994. She recorded her first release “Passion Flute”, which was recently re-released and continues to be one of her fans’ all-time favorite recording. The album’s concept is to showcase Bobbi Humphrey with a cool jazz setting; mostly at mid-tempo: although there is a surprising up-tempo version of his huge hit, “Harlem River Drive. There are also two original ballads in which Bobbi features the smooth singing of D’wayne Whitehead. Another song features two great artists and friends of Bobbi, Gwen Guthrie on vocal and Ralph MacDonald on percussion. From the first track, “Steppin’ Out” which features Bobbi’s flute on a hauntingly smooth, yet strong hook, to the last track, “Rainbows”, a soaring ballad, her passionate and pure flute playing is ever present. In “Passion Flute”, her fans old and new will surely have a greater passion for Bobbi Humphrey.
The West Coast's answer to the Last Poets, The Watts Prophets didn't get quite the same recognition for their contributions to raising black consciousness and laying the foundations for rap. The group was formed at the Watts Writer's Workshop, an organization started by screenwriter Budd Schulberg designed to provide a creative outlet in the wake of the 1965 Watts riots. Father Amde Hamilton (an Ethiopian Orthodox priest, born Anthony Hamilton), Otis O'Solomon, and Richard Dedeaux met in the workshop circa 1967, and soon began performing together as Watts Prophets, setting their socially and politically conscious poetry to spare, often jazzy musical backing. They won second place in an inner-city talent show, which led to a residency at John Daniels' Maverick's Flat club in South Central L.A.; they also performed at fundraisers, in prisons, and around their community whenever possible.
In1969, Watts Prophets debuted with The Black Voices: On the Streets in Watts. Two years later, the group released Rappin' Black in a White World on ALA, with lyrics and vocals provided by former Motown songwriter Dee Dee McNeil. The radical, incendiary tone of their work fit right in with the emerging black power movement, and attracted unfavorable notice from the government; the home of the Watts Writers Project was destroyed by fire in 1975 after having been infiltrated by an FBI informant. Record deals were hard to come by, and were continually falling through (including one with Bob Marley's home, Tuff Gong, that evaporated with Marley's premature death). Still, they remained sporadically active as performers, and were rediscovered by the hip-hop generation as their records were sampled frequently; additionally, O'Solomon's "Hey World" was covered by Ziggy Marley. In 1997, Watts Prophets released an album of new material with pianist Horace Tapscott, When the 90's Came, on Payday/ffrr, which also reissued their two original LPs. The Prophets remain dedicated community activists today, promoting creative self-expression and the arts for young people around Southern California and beyond.
Amde Hamilton, who is a priest of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, can be seen performing a spoken-word piece at the 1981 funeral service of Bob Marley in Jamaica in the 1982 film Land of Look Behind.
In 1994, the group appeared on the Red Hot Organization's compilation CD, Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool, appearing on a track entitled "Apprehension" alongside Don Cherry. The album, meant to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic in African-American society was named "Album of the Year" by Time Magazine.
Finding much support in African American popular music they released two relatively unnoticed albums “Rappin’ Black in a White World” and “From the Streets of Watts” and appeared on “Songs in the Key of Life” by Stevie Wonder, all of which have now become notorious and been cited by Mos Def amongst others. In a modern context its influence on the hip-hop community and slam poetry gatherings such as Def Poetry Jam is undeniable.
Well known rapper DJ Quik, a collaborator and contributor to the Watts Prophets 1997 work “When The 90′s Came”, is one of the many who point to the Watts Prophets as an early source of inspiration. Creating a voice tightly woven with the day to day struggle toward civil rights for African Americans, the Watts Prophets were eventually heard in recordings with popular music legends such as Stevie Wonder and Bob Marley, and have been sampled by artists such as Digable Planets, Coolio and Ice Cube.
After a long battle with cancer, poet and founding member of the legendary Watts Prophets, Richard Anthony Dedeaux passed away at home in Shelton, Washington at 10:45 PM PST, Tuesday night, December 3rd 2013. He was 73.
My name is Clayton E. Corley, Sr. aka Big Trigger host and producer of an award winning internet program!