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Mike Clark - Actual Proof
Mike Clark was plucked from obscurity when he was selected as Harvey Mason's replacement in Herbie Hancock's Headhunters.  As the rhythmic pulse of this funk-fusion jauggernaut, Clark anchored classic albums like Thrust, Manchild, and Flood, earning a reputation as one of the most complex funky drummers in the business.

All of which makes this album a surprise. Instead of drawing on his funk roots, Actual Proof is more like an updated 1960s soul jazz date from Prestige.   A very capable lineup of sidemen including Charlie Hunter and new discoveries Tim Ouimette (trumpet) and Jed Levy (sax) runs through the songs with style and grace, but not much groove.  The most genuinely funky moments belong to the closing "Famous Door" and a version of Miles Davis' "Stuff" but even those fail to reach a full burn.  

The emphasis here is definitely a variant of contemporary jazz, with more bite than is currently associated with the genre and it is done well.  "The Grinder" has a melody that sticks to your memory and Clark reveals himself to be a competent composer on "Bacon Phat" and "Aristide."  Old friend Bennie Maupin cameos on several tracks, adding his graceful and distinctive voice to the proceedings. 

If you can put preconceived notions aside, this is an enjoyable if restrained album.  In short, Actual Proof is a disc that seems designed to raise interest in his live show, where he unleashes the full power of his talent.   

Copyright 2001 B.Graff.  All rights reserved.

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Released 2000 on Platform Recordings

Tracks

Stingers
The Grinder
Aristide

The Viper
Waiting Around
Stuff
Attack of the 40 Ft Woman

Cops and Robbers
59th Street Station
Bacon Phat
The Famous Door

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