Stanley Clarke, Al Di Meola & Jean-Luc Ponty
In the fusion world, Stanley Clarke (1951) was the first bassist to headline sold out tours and have his albums reach gold status. He essentially made it just fine to be a bass player, band leader and seller of lots of records and preceded the late, great Jaco Pastorius as the first prominent fusion bass player. Clarke was part of the seminal fusion group, Return To Forever, along with Chick Corea, Al DiMeola and various drummers. He's also an accomplished composer of film soundstracks, such as Boys N the Hood, Passenger 57, Higher Learning, and Poetic Justice. His solo performance piece was his famous "School Days" from his 1976 album of the same name. He is the pre-eminent fusion bass player of our time.Read More
Born in 1954, Al DiMeola was lauded early on for his speed, technical skills, and complicated soloing. He became known for his Latin, flamenco and tango-influenced playing. He joined Return To Forever as the replacement for Bill Connors and helped them to achieve great commercial success. The 1976 album Romantic Warrior was a top 40 album. He went solo in 1976 and released a string of landmark fusion albums, such as Land of the Midnight Sun and Elegant Gypsy. Towards the early part of the 90s, he began to focus more on world-music influenced recordings, such as World Sinfonia Trio and Heart of the Immigrants.
Keyboardist Monty Alexander tickled the ivories for the encore of "Song To John." While he's a fine player, I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed the sound of the electronic piano. It just doesn't as good as a real acoustic piano. Still, Alexander's prescence adds to this number in a positive way. I almost wish the Jamaican-born pianist had been there from the begining.
It's to be expected that you can throw a group of experienced jazz musicians together and have them play as if they had been rehearsing and playing together as a group for years.
Fusion jazz very much flows freely, without the usual tension and counterbalance heard in straight ahead jazz. In many places, the players seem to wander off on their own, creating the lack of a common theme to bind the music together.