Down Beat - p.803 stars out of 5
-- "[T]he album presents a varied menu, complete with fantastic electric and acoustic bass solos, all against a surprisingly textural backdrop."
JazzTimes - p.93
"[H]e stretches his fabled chops to another level....Clarke's signature slap technique comes to the fore on funky vehicles like the super-charged 'Come On'..."
Personnel: Stanley Clarke (spoken vocals, acoustic bass, electric bass, bass guitar, programming); Esperanza Spalding (vocals); Jef Lee Johnson (guitar); Michael Landau (acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Tomer Shtein (acoustic guitar); Mads Tolling (violin); Ruslan Sirota (piano, Fender Rhodes piano, keyboards, programming); Paulinho Da Costa (percussion).
Recording information: The Boat, Los Angeles, CA; Topanga Studios, Topanga, CA.
Bassist/composer Stanley Clarke was around at fusion's inception, playing with Chick Corea, George Duke, and many others. While other performers might have muddied fusion's waters with overindulgence and blandness, Clarke's TOYS OF MEN proves that it's still very much a viable musical route. Throughout, there's a balance of acoustic and electric instrumentation (Clarke even plays an acoustic bass guitar on some tracks), as well as moods both contemplative ("Back In The Woods") and darkly funky ("Game"). The six-part "Toys Of Men" even reflects some 1970's prog-rock influence. Old fans of fusion will likely be pleased with TOYS and fusion/jam band newbies should check it out as well.