Thursday, June 30, 2011

Forgotten Music: Peacemaker by Clarence Clemons

Most should know I’m a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. As a sax player, Mr. Clemons had a tone I envied. When Bruce’s music called for an old-school sax solo (a la “Born to Run”), the Big Man delivered in spades. But, to me, Clemons really shined with the slower pieces. Just as David Gilmour can “say” more with a single extended, held note than other guitarists can with fanatical fretwork, Clemons’s sound was luxurious and full. I’ll even namedrop Miles Davis because Clemons knew the value of silence in his music. For you Springsteen fans out there, I’m talking “Jungleland,” “Secret Garden,” “Back in Your Arms Again,” among others.

His 1995 album, Peacemaker, is a slow, peaceful, meditative offering. At its base, Clemons is merely soloing over soft percussion, mostly non-western in origin. This is night music, the kind free from worry and other noises, the kind that can mingle in the shadows of your house or apartment and breathe life into the mysterious places in your soul. In the spirit of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, this album is Clemons’s thank you to God for bestowing upon him the talent to play sax. I listened to it in a Barnes and Noble sixteen years ago and immediately bought it. Now, it is one of my Top 10 desert island CDs. That is, if I can only choose 10 albums to listen to the rest of my life, this makes the cut. Last weekend, when I learned of Clemons’s death, I put Peacemaker on and drifted to another place.

Here is a cut from Peacemaker: Into the Blue Forest

And here is Springsteen's eulogy for the Big Man.


pattinase (abbott) said...

He will be missed.

David Cranmer said...

At one time Bruce and Clarence were the soundtrack to my life. I saw Clarence live in 1989. Unforgettable. I won't forget the Big Man. RIP.