Best known for her tenure with the pioneering avant-funk unit Defunkt, bassist Kim Clarke began playing R&B at age 18; a self-taught musician, she was a college sophomore when she first learned of the Jazzmobile project's Saturday workshops, changing her major to music and proceeding to study under the likes of Jimmy Owens, Lisle Atkinson, Buster Williams, Victor Gaskins, Jimmy Heath and Ernie Wilkins. Awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz study grant, Clarke honed her skills under the tutelage of bass great Ron Carter; a stint at Barry Harris' jazz improvisation workshop followed, and soon she was the house bassist at a number of Harlem jazz clubs as well as the Jazz Cultural Theatre's "Art Blakey Breakfast Jam." Clarke joined Defunkt for 1982's Thermonuclear Sweat, remaining with the group for over a decade; concurrently she toured Europe and Japan with a variety of artists before going on to lead the jazz group Inner Circle Quartet and the funk/jazz project A.W.O.L. (Angels with Outstanding Lawyers). In the late 1990s, Clarke also teamed with saxophonist Rob Scheps to lead the Oregon-based Magnets.