Stanley Clarke Named 2022 NEA Jazz Master

Stanley Clarke

Photo by Toshi Sakurai

Each year, the National Endowment for the Arts pays tribute the legends of jazz, and they’ve just announced the 2022 NEA Jazz Master honorees. The four recipients of the award include drummer Billy Hart, vocalist Cassandra Wilson, saxophonist Donald Harrison, Jr., and bassist Stanley Clarke. Each artist receives a $25,000 award in addition to being honored with a concert on Thursday, March 31, 2022 at the SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco, California.

Clarke is an absolute icon of jazz, let alone the bass. His virtuosic playing redefined the instrument and continues to inspire generations of players. He shared the news on Facebook, calling it “quite an honor.”

“Clarke’s bass-playing, showing exceptional skill on both acoustic and electric bass, has made him one of the most influential players in modern jazz history,” the NEA writes. “In addition to his solo career, Clarke, as a founding member of the legendary jazz-rock fusion band Return to Forever, has helped redefine the sound of jazz over the last 50 years. Return to Forever—Clarke with fellow seminal members Chick Corea, Lenny White, and Al Di Meola—would become one of the most popular jazz bands of its day, pulling fans from the rock world to achieve commercial success. As part of his strong belief in giving back, he also established the Stanley Clarke Foundation, a charitable organization which awards scholarships to talented young musicians each year.”

Clarke has continued to record and perform. The Stanley Clarke Band’s latest album, The Message, was released in 2018. Most recently he has launched an incredible web series called “Bass Nation.”

Congrats to Stanley Clarke!

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  1. Michael Logan

    Yes I am a bass player and I can only concur that Stanley Clarke is an absolute icon as a bass player and a composer. When I first heard Stanley it was the Chick Corea RTF LP with the composition La Fiesta on it and when I heard this young musician, who was about my age, play the way he was playing on that track I literally started crying, because I thought it was impossible for me to ever play like that. I was completely blown away I thought it was impossible for HIM to play like that. Not only has he been an influence on my musical career but I am and have been a fan forever, and I always return.