To hear Grammy Award-winning music, just boogie down to Scranton. Acoustic and electric bass legend Stanley Clarke will headline the 13th annual Scranton Jazz Festival, which takes place Friday, Aug. 4, through Sunday, Aug. 6, across various venues in the city’s downtown. Aside from four Grammys and 13 additional nominations for music’s top honor, Clarke has been recognized in nearly every way imaginable over his 40-year career, during which he produced dozens of gold- and platinum-selling records, earned Emmy nominations and topped readers’ and critics’ polls — including Rolling Stone magazine’s inaugural Jazzman of the Year award, and, most recently, Downbeat magazine’s 2017 Annual International Critics Poll for electric bass.
Clarke also worked in television and film as a composer, orchestrator, conductor and performer for several films, including “Boyz N the Hood” and “The Transporter,” as well as TV shows “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” “Lincoln Heights” and more.
In between touring and working on a new album due out next year, Clarke, a Philadelphia native, will take the stage in the Electric City during the Stanley Clarke Band’s set Sunday, Aug. 6, at 8 p.m. on the main stage at Radisson at Lackawanna Station hotel, 700 Lackawanna Ave., Scranton. There, Clarke hopes to see some familiar faces while he’s in town.
“I’m hoping my friends and family come out to see me,” he said during a recent phone interview from Leeds, England, where he was on a European tour. “I know Scranton very well. As a kid, I used to come to Scranton and (I’ve) been there in the ‘70s and ‘80s … I have some friends near there, as well.”
For Clarke, he’s most eager for Jazz Festival audiences to hear the band play, as they’re extremely tight and cue off each other, though the lineup has only been performing together as a band for two to three years. Also, for a genre as broad as jazz, performing live for jazz lovers and new fans alike can bring a different experience to each audience member, Clarke said.
“It’s an undefined term,” he said. “There’s so many different types of music that fall under the head ‘jazz.’ We do our best to talk to the audience. Our jazz is very, very exciting and direct.”
As in past years, the Jazz Festival’s main stage hosts performances during the beginning of the evening.
The main stage will feature sets by Indigo Moon Brass Band, Steely Dan tribute band the Royal Scam, Scranton Jazz Festival/Camp Crescendo (made up of students from Keystone College’s jazz camp), solo pianist and visual artist Jeff Laibson, New York City-based Eddie Allen Jazz Quintet, Scranton Jazz Festival Big Band with vocalist and guitarist John Pizzarelli and trumpeter, vocalist and composer Nate Birkey.
After the main stage closes on Friday and Saturday, local, regional and national up-and-coming and veteran artists perform during the Jazz Walk, which begins at 10 p.m. at various downtown venues.
With so much music happening throughout the city in jazz, blues and world beat styles, residents have the chance to get a taste of everything, said Marko Marcinko, a local veteran musician, jazz studies instructor at The Pennsylvania State University and festival artistic director. Some people may feel apprehensive when they hear the word “jazz,” but, like Clarke, Marcinko insists there’s so many variations of what jazz can be, someone can like jazz music without even realizing it.
“It is accessible and it is for anyone, under this infinite umbrella,” he said. “Jazz is as American as apple pie and our greatest export to the world.”
— gia mazur
If you go
What: Scranton Jazz Festival featuring Grammy Award-winner Stanley Clarke
When: Friday, Aug. 4: Jazz happy hour at Trax starts at 5 p.m.; Main Stage bands start at 7:30 p.m., Jazz Walk begins at 10 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 5: Main Stage bands start at 5:30 p.m., Jazz Walk begins at 10 p.m.; Sunday, Aug. 6: Jazz Brunch inside Carmen’s 2.0 Restaurant; Main Stage bands starts at 7 p.m. (Clarke performs at 8 p.m.)
Where: Main Stage is located at Radisson at Lackawanna Station hotel, 700 Lackawanna Ave.; Jazz Walk includes various venues downtown in Scranton
Details: Jazz Festival weekend pass is $60. Single-day tickets are $10 for Friday, $25-$35 for Saturday, $30-$40 for Sunday. Tickets are available online at scrantonjazzfestival.org, by calling 570-575-5282 or at any Joe Nardone’s Gallery of Sound locations.