The Twin Palms restaurant in Pasadena was overflowing with a conservative-looking dinner crowd Thursday night. White-aproned waiters moved busily through the warmly atmospheric, tent-covered room, and business-suited, evening-frocked men and women dined in quiet tranquillity.
It was not exactly the sort of environment in which one expected an explosion of funk-driven fusion music. But that's exactly what happened when Stanley Clarke and his quartet took the stage. The eclectic, multiple-talented bassist-composer moved easily from fusion to mainstream, from blinding displays of virtuosity to grooving funk-driven rhythms.
And in the process, the room was transformed. A few minutes after the start of Clarke's first piece, a gray-suited, bespectacled man converted his table into a drum set, avidly banging out rhythms with both hands. At another table, a discreet-looking couple began clapping their hands in rhythm, occasionally leaping to their feet to shout, "Yeah, go, Stanley, go!"
Clarke observed the proceedings with an occasionally quizzical eye, clearly enjoying the reaction. After a couple of contemporary numbers in which he used his electric bass as a melodic instrument, (relying on keyboard support from Nick Smith and Robert Perkins and dynamic drumming from Ike Wiley), he moved to his larger, acoustic instrument.