Jazz legends Clarke and Duke turn on the energy at Wolf Trap

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Entertainment,Music,Marie Gullard

When keyboardist George Duke and bassist Stanley Clarke go out on tour together, it's 1981 all over again. The jazz-fusion movement rules, while two of its early pioneers take the stage with what Clarke calls "a natural, built-in kind of excitement."

The Clark/Duke 4 "Bring It" Tour represents the fourth major collaboration since the initial Project 30 years ago, which produced the top ten smash single "Sweet Baby."

"This is basically the fourth go-around for us," said Duke. "We've done three albums in the '80s and early '90s, and this is like the fourth we haven't recorded yet."

They would have, though -- there just never seemed to be enough time. Stanley Clarke, a multi-Grammy Award winner, was busy with his fusion group, Return to Forever, which he co-founded with Chick Corea, while Duke, also the owner of multiple Grammys, toured with the likes of Al Jarreau, Jean-Luc Ponty, even the late Frank Zappa. When he wasn't touring, he was involved in composing music for such films as "Karate Kid III," "Leap of Faith" and "Meteor Man."

Onstage
Stanley Clarke and George Duke
Where: Wolf Trap's Filene Center, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
Info: $42 in-house, $25 lawn; 877-WOLFTRAP (965-3872); wolftrap.org

Now, however, the Clarke/Duke 4 "Bring It" Tour -- with its Wednesday night stop at Wolf Trap's Filene Center -- is the result of a happy reunion at the right time and place for the two musicians.

"We'll definitely be doing songs that people know from our albums ... a few things from my catalogue, a few things from Stanley's," Duke continued. "Then, we'll do some standards in the unplugged segment. In many ways, the unplugged segment has become one of the most popular and gets the most response because it's scaled down and you can really hear what we're doing. It's a quiet moment."

Not for long. The pair will end with what Duke calls "all the funky, rocking kind of music" that puts people in a happy, dancing mood and "punches them up."

"With the Clarke/Duke Project, we have a natural, built-in kind of excitement." Clark added. "We talk about that sometimes. As soon as we get onstage, we're wild. It doesn't matter how old we are. There's a lot of energy, a lot of fun."

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Marie Gullard

Special to The Washington Examiner
The Washington Examiner