After the release of Coldwater Flat five months earlier, Three Sounds pianist Gene Harris and bassist Andy Simpkins found themselves faced with yet another personnel change: Donald Bailey, who'd been with group for only two albums, left the group (after replacing founding drummer Bill Dowdy) and was replaced by Carl Burnett. The jazz-pop direction that Harris and Simpkins pursued on the fine Coldwater Flat set – where the trio fronted the Oliver Nelson band and a string section – was followed up here with composer and saxophonist Monk Higgins as arranger, conductor, and co-producer (with Dee Ervin).
Stanley Clarke's debut solo effort was issued when he was already a seasoned jazz veteran, and a member of Chick Corea's Return to Forever, which at the time of this recording also included Joe Farrell on soprano sax and flute, and the Brazilian team of vocalist Flora Purim and drummer/percussionist Airto Moreira. Produced by Corea, who plays Rhodes, clavinet, and acoustic piano on Children of Forever, the band included flutist Art Webb, then-new RtF drummer Lenny White, guitarist Pat Martino, and a vocal pairing in the inimitable Andy Bey and Dee Dee Bridgewater on three of the five cuts – Bey appears on four. Clarke plays both electric and acoustic bass on the set; and while it would be easy to simply look at this recording as an early fusion date, that would be a tragic mistake.
Playing at Maybeck Recital Hall before a small but attentive crowd seems to bring out the best in many pianists. Stanley Cowell performs a well-planned program of 14 selections on this 1990 CD. On a two-minute "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise," Cowell runs through all twelve keys. He pays tribute to the stride-piano tradition on "Stompin' at the Savoy," explores some bop, Latin-jazz (a transformed "Autumn Leaves") and post bop music, plays "Jitterbug Waltz" in the style of Art Tatum, inteprets "Stella by Starlight" in 5/4 time and performs J.J. Johnson's "Lament" with just his left hand. A very interesting recital. ~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide
A brilliant player on both acoustic and electric basses, Stanley Clarke has spent much of his career outside of jazz, although he has the ability to play jazz with the very best. He played accordion as a youth, switching to violin and cello before settling on bass. He worked with R&B and rock bands in high school, but after moving to New York, he worked with Pharoah Sanders in the early '70s. George Duke showed a great deal of promise early in his career as a jazz pianist and keyboardist, but has forsaken that form to be a pop producer.