After years of producing albums which were more pop/funk than jazz oriented, George Duke simmers down, leaves off the R&B vocals, and takes a little creative license on the self-proclaimed "mood record" After Hours. While his recent Muir Woods Suite showed off his affinity for classical music, here he's at his best on the meditative Vince Guaraldi-type trio ballads "Together as One" and "Sweet Dreams," which glide along on the improvisational and gently swinging graces of Christian McBride and Leon "Ndugu" Chancler. A whole project in this vein would have been welcome, but Duke charters other new territory, too; on the easy grooving "The Touch" and the almost new agey "From Dusk Till Dawn," he borrows the actual Rhodes from Joe Sample but winds up perfectly simulating Bob James' "Taxi" vibe, especially on the exploratory solo on the latter tune. The untrained ear might swear it's an actual James recording, but Duke's a clever enough producer to go beyond strict imitation. "The Touch" achieves an intriguing low-toned brew, as Sheridon Stokes' bass flute melody drifts gently over a hypnotic weave of Larry Kimpel's bass and Duke's Rhodes.
Greatest Hits is a fine ten-track overview of the funk keyboardist's late-'70s/early-'80s recordings, containing all three of his Top Ten R&B hits ("Reach for It," "Dukey Stick," "Sweet Baby") plus a good selection of minor hits and album tracks.
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.
Released in 1974, Faces in Reflection was, in many ways, George Duke's third album as a leader for MPS. The first two, Solus and The Inner Source, were recorded separately but issued as a double-LP by SABA, which shortly thereafter ceased doing business and was folded into MPS. That said, there is little resemblance between the man who recorded his early albums like Save the Country, those aforementioned, and the seasoned studio experimentalist who cut Faces in Reflection. Duke's periods with Cannonball Adderley and Frank Zappa (the latter an ongoing relationship; it was Zappa who introduced Duke to the synthesizer) had taught him a ton musically and about working in the studio. The players here include Leon "Ndugu" Chancler and bassist John Heard.