George Duke was an American musician, known as a keyboard pioneer, composer, singer and producer in both jazz and popular mainstream musical genres. He worked with numerous artists as arranger, music director, writer and co-writer, record producer and as a professor of music. He first made a name for himself with the album The Jean-Luc Ponty Experience with the George Duke Trio. He was known primarily for thirty-odd solo albums, of which 'A Brazilian Love Affair' from 1980 was his most popular, as well as for his collaborations with other musicians, particularly Frank Zappa.
The Sony/BMG Original Album Classics series brings together 5 CD's of rare and out of print titles with some best sellers from the Sony/BMG Rock catalog. Many of these albums have been unavailable on CD for some time and are sought after by collectors. Each set is presented in a high quality, rigid cardboard slipcase containing five vinyl replica mini LP sleeves. This 5 CD collection of original releases featuring George Duke includes the albums From Me To You, Reach For It, Don't Let Go, Follow The Rainbow, and A Brazilian Love Affair.
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.
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.
Deja Vu is 2010's bookend to 2008's Dukey Treats. That record explored George Duke's funk roots and channeled everything from Earth, Wind & Fire to P-Funk, artists who inspired his own successful run of funk outings. Deja Vu revisits Duke's love of electric funky jazz. Here he recalls some of the production and musical techniques he employed in the '70s. Along with playing a load of synths (mono and analog), Rhodes and Wurlitzer electric pianos, clavinet, acoustic piano, and even miniMoog bass are in abundance, too. The production is pure retro; compared to the contemporary jazz recordings of the 21st century, Deja Vu sounds almost organic.
Straightforward small combo jazz (basically an electric/acoustic piano trio with occasional guitar, reeds and percussion) of a kind that George Duke's detractors say he has long since abandoned, In a Mellow Tone is indubitably a mainstream jazz record with little adventurous spirit and a sound that occasionally even verges on the easy listening horrors of smooth jazz. However, as such albums go, it's more than pleasant, with Duke's underrated piano and Fender Rhodes technique driving the songs.