Stanley Clarke

Rite of Strings

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Any time the likes of Stanley Clarke, Al DiMeola and Jean-Luc Ponty are assembled, there is a good chance the results are going to be impressive. Clarke and DiMeola had played together in the legendary Return to Forever, producing some of the most intense playing in all of fusion; Jean-Luc Ponty had also made several excellent, very diverse recordings. The chops of these three musicians are pretty much unsurpassed in the industry, which in itself makes Rite of Strings worthy of a listen. The real treat, however, is in the song selections. Three of DiMeola's more recent compositions are here, including the uplifting "Chilean Pipe Song." On this song, Clarke and Ponty's dual-bow sound provides a nice backdrop to DiMeola's introduction before DiMeola and Ponty state the melody together. Ponty has always been one of the more interesting violinists, mostly because he experiments with the instrument's tonal possibilities. His plucking introduction to "Renassaince" and the strumming on "Change of Life" are evidence of this. Clarke's finest moment comes on his own beautiful "Topanga," on which his bow playing is enough to evoke tears. This is a classic recording that should not be missed; the integrity, musicianship, compositions, and improvisations are all first-rate.

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