George Duke 

Déjà Vu

Keyboardist George Duke is difficult to pigeonhole. During a recording career that spans 41 years, he has been on the cutting edge of jazz, fusion, rock, and funk, yet he also has produced highly polished R&B hits for such singers as Anita Baker and Deniece Williams. The San Rafael-born musician got down and dirty two years ago with a funk masterpiece titled Dukey Treats, but for Déjà Vu he largely plays it safe. Most of the tunes seem geared toward smooth-jazz airplay, although superb playing by Duke and a cast of sidemen that includes guitarists Ray Fuller, Paul Jackson Jr., Jef Lee Johnson, and John "Jubu" Smith; drummers Ronald Bruner Jr. and Teddy Campbell; trumpeters Oscar Brashear and Nicholas Payton; flutist Hubert Laws; and saxophonists Everette Harp and Bob Sheppard keeps the proceedings on a consistently interesting musical level.

Duke steps out of the safety zone twice: "Ripple in Time (for Miles)," an homage to Miles Davis's fusion period and "You Touch My Brain," an avant-blues that recalls Duke's late friend Johnny "Guitar" Watson. Duke sings the latter tune in gritty low-tenor tones over bassist Larry Kimball and drummer Bruner's tightly locking mid-tempo funk groove. A darting, gospel-drenched electric piano solo follows before Johnson serves up some brittle-toned, bop-imbued blues magic, rife with wondrously bent notes. Duke has the final word, however, picking up where Johnson left off with a clavinet solo that mimics the guitarist's sound. The keyboardist is clearly having fun, and the mood he generates is infectious. (Heads Up)

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Anonymous and pseudonymous comments will be removed.

Latest in CD Reviews

Author Archives

  • Mali Music

    Mali Is...  
    • Jul 9, 2014
  • Lira

    Rise Again
    • Jun 25, 2014
  • More»

Most Popular Stories

Special Reports

Summer Guide 2016

Your definitive guide to summertime entertainment, outings, eating, drinking, and more.

Sustainable Living 2016

Everything you need to know about saving water, energy efficiency, sustainable farming and eating, and more.

© 2016 East Bay Express    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation