Bassist Stanley Clarke
, one who has always made easy transitions between musical styles, focuses exclusively on standards
for this 2001 session, accompanied by pianist Patrice Rushen
and drummer Ndugu Chancler
, recorded directly to two-track without overdubs or editing. Clarke
is generous in sharing the spotlight, giving plenty of space to his fellow musicians. One of the obvious highlights is the brisk bossa nova setting of "Lover Man," which removes any of the plaintive message of its unheard lyrics. A rather avant-garde introduction disguises the introduction to a turbulent rendition of "Oleo." The explosive rendition of "Salt Peanuts" detours into a post-bop setting far from its roots, while the overly tense introduction to "Now's the Time" comes off as a bit pretentious. "Take Five" opens with a dark Latin vamp before its familiar theme emerges, showcasing Chancler
but never sufficiently gaining momentum. A bonus DVD includes interview excerpts with the musicians during the session, along with some of the performances. This is a good CD that might have been even better with a day or two of rehearsal together.