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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mike Clark - Carnival Of Soul

Mike Clark - Carnival Of Soul
2010, Owl Studios

Mike Clark is something of a legend. Coming to prominence as Herbie Hancock's drummer in the early 1970's, Clark has gone on to play with the likes of Chet Baker, Tony Bennett, Gil Evans, Brand X and a host of other names in jazz music. Clark teaches regularly at camps, colleges and music shops but still finds time to create, as vividly displayed on his latest album, Carnival Of Soul. A tribute to B-3 trios, Clark finds the freedom to let go and play with a youthful energy on Carnival Of Soul, assisted by the likes of Delbert McClinton, Rez Abbasi, Delbert Bump, Jerry Z and Jeff Pittson among others.

Carnival Of Soul opens with "T's Boogaloo", a tribute to Al Tanner where Clark and friends challenge you to sit still. It's a pure mix of boogie and funk that's absolutely irresistible. "Monk's Dream" mixes bop and blues with a modern twist while Clark provides quiet pyrotechnics on the skins. " Multiple GRAMMY winner Delbert McClinton sits in on vocals for "Cry Me A River", providing a dynamic vocal line to balance the uniquely subtle and compact arrangement cooked up here. Clark shows off his New York swing style on "Water On The Moon" and channels a bit of Max Roach on "Turok Son Of Stone". The latter is pure bop with a modern twist.

Stay tuned for Clark & company's rendition of "Angel Eyes"; a classic read with electric solo work from both Delbert Bump and Steve Homan. For the true drum aficionados out there nothing will beat "Bookin'". Clark conjures rhythms that are difficult to imagine and nearly impossible to copy, treading the sort of polyrhythmic ground tread by Buddy Rich and more recently by Neil Peart. Things take a funky turn on "Zoyd", a fun little nugget that seems a tad out of place here but sounds like it was too fun to play to leave off the album. Carnival Of Soul closes with a tribute to Sid Catlett entitled "Catlett Outta My Bag". Lenny White sits in, and the ensemble invokes thoughts of Miles Davis, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock before the album fades away into musical aether.

Mike Clark seems to create something new every time he sits down at the drums, and there is a tremendous sense of play on Carnival Of Soul. This is not just a first class jazz/fusion/funk album; it's an album alive with the joy of the players practicing their craft at its apex. Carnival Of Soul is likely to be truly enjoyed by a narrow demographic of jazz fans, but that doesn't change the fact that at the halfway point of 2010 it's among the best new jazz albums to be released this year.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Mike Clark at or Of Soul is available as a CD or Download from, as well as from iTunes.

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