“I had come to New York to be a jazz musician in the early '70s," says bass legend Stanley Clarke. "I played with Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Joe Henderson – lots of great artists. I was playing mainly acoustic bass; I didn’t play much electric bass until the group Return To Forever developed.
“My solo albums developed from my playing with that band. The first Return To Forever records were acoustic, but then we had an electric period. Playing the electric bass was completely different for me, like going from the piano to the trumpet – two different worlds.
“My approach to the bass on these records was further away from the traditional jazz I had previously played. A lot of it was rock, it’s loud, very intense. It was fun making them. I had free reign to do whatever I wanted, and people bought them, too. Not many instrumental bass players can hang gold records on the wall.
“In many ways, making these albums was one very large experiment, but it’s one that worked. It’s interesting to look back and listen to them now. They have lots of energy, passion, honesty - they’re cool. Whether or not I’m a pioneer, which I’ve heard, that’s not up for me to say. I was just trying to put a point of view across.”
On the following pages, Stanley Clarke reflects on his early solo works, records which are now part of a six-disc set called Stanley Clarke: The Complete 1970s Epic Albums Collection from Sony/Legacy Recordings.