Influential bass player Stanley Clarke named Detroit Jazz Fest's 2019 Artist-in-Residence

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News
Stanley Clarke is the 2019 Artist-in-Residence at the Detroit Jazz Fest over Labor Day weekend.

Pioneering bass player Stanley Clarke will be the 2019 Artist-in-Residence at this summer's 40th annual Detroit Jazz Festival.

Hopefully there will be dry skies this time around. The multi-Grammy Award winner was scheduled to perform at the free, outdoor festival in 2014 and 2017 and had to cancel both times due to bleak weather. 

“I’m really hoping to break that spell this time,” he said, adding that he believes the Detroit Jazz Festival, which is Aug. 30-Sept. 2 this year, is one of the better events of its kind in the United States. “It’s a real jazz festival, it’s really nice.”  

As Artist-in-Residence, Clarke will perform several times throughout the weekend. 

“I’m going to have a night where I do my funkier music and music I’ve done with George Duke,” he said. The Clarke/Duke Project formed in the 1970s and had a Top 20 hit with the song “Sweet Baby.” 

“Music from the '70s and just going into the '80s... that’s going to be really a lot of fun, because I haven’t really addressed that music in a long time.”

In addition to an extensive discography and collaborations with musicians like Duke, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Stewart Copeland and last year's Artist-in-Residence Chick Corea, Clarke has composed music for close to 70 films. 

He says he'll dedicate a night at the Detroit Jazz Festival to this body of work, which includes music from the John Singleton films  "Boyz N the Hood," "Poetic Justice" and "Higher Learning," plus "What's Love Got to Do With It" and others.  

Clark, who performs for fans all over the world, will also bring a more jazz-forward set with his touring band. 

In addition to his relationship with the Jazz Festival, Clarke's 2018 album "The Message" was released on Grosse Pointe-based label Mack Avenue Records. He has a longstanding history with the area, and said he's played the Masonic Temple "about a billion times."

"There's just great audiences there, and also like everybody else, I embrace the music that came out of Detroit. A lot of history came out of the city, and I'm happy to hear it's turning itself around."  

President and artistic director of the festival Christopher Collins said when choosing an Artist-in-Residence, the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation considers not only a talent that is musically diverse but also available to be an emissary to the festival throughout the year. 

Chris Collins, president and artistic director of the Detroit Jazz Festival, gives a thumbs up during a media preview luncheon in 2018 at the Detroit Athletic Club.

"In addition to finding a legendary artist like Stanley Clarke who brings so much to the festival proper, the signature event, it's also finding an artist that's giving. Giving to the community, giving as a mentor," said Collins, adding that they ask the Artist-in-Residence to not only be an ambassador to the festival but "to Detroit culture." 

Besides his performances at the festival, Clarke will also support student clinics throughout the year. On April 2, he will perform at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe in Grosse Pointe for a fundraiser. 

The Artist-in-Residence role has been part of the festival for more than a decade and in the past has included Regina Carter, Pat Metheny, Ron Carter, Danilo Perez and Wayne Shorter. 

"There are a lot of great artists in the world," Collins said. "We've been fortunate enough to get those who are not only of legendary status, but that really understand the role of Artist-in-Residence and our request to weave them into the community in different ways throughout the year with youths and professionals in preparation for the festival proper."

This year is extra special because the festival is celebrating 40 years. 

"One of the ways I've approached this year, it's very important, is something of a reunion, and I think Stanley Clarke as Artist-in-Residence speaks to that," he said. "Bringing the Jazz Fest family — which is our patrons, our audience, our sponsors, our artists, Artist-in-Residence and, of course, all the amazing Detroit artists that still live in the community — together to celebrate not only 40 years in general but the amazing time with the festival itself."

The free Detroit Jazz Festival is presented by Quicken Loans. A complete list of acts will be announced next week. Visit 

Attendees enjoying the music of Lisa Fischer during the 2016 Detroit Jazz Festival.

Twitter: @melodybaetens