George Duke – Duke
(US BPM / UK Dome, 2005)
Trust – I Wanna Know – Superwoman – No One – T-Jam – Somebody’s Body – Sausalito – Saturday Night
– In Between The Heartaches – Hybrids – Homeland
I really appreciate George Duke even though I have not always dug what he has recorded.
I can always depend on him to deliver the goods somewhere along the line and the late 80s –
late 90s we hit a rich vein of creativity that we will appreciate for years to come, not
only with his own work, but his collaborations with 101 North, Smokey Robinson, Chanté Moore
and Rachelle Ferrell to name but a few. Some commentators have argued that this is his
best work in 20 years. I am afraid that I don’t agree with that as I feel “Is Love Enough”
was far more solid. Horses for courses and all that, I suppose. What I do feel, though,
is that “Duke” is the best set since 2000 and definitely eclipses his last album.
I think George possesses a lovely, distinct near falsetto vocal style and I find it perfect
for the music he composes. His jazz outings here are very good, and “Trust” jump-starts us
brilliantly into the excellently soulful “I Wanna Know” which is one of the highlights of this CD.
“No-One” is another classy act. Rachelle Ferrell adds her slinky sass to this relaxed, smoky
My only nit-pick is that yet again the melody smacks of “No Rhyme, No Reason”. George proves
his dedicated acquaintance with the keys on this song and for me shares the limelight with
Rachelle, no question. I really do like the modern sounding melody of “Somebody’s Body” which
George adds some blazingly cool keyboards and synth. The song talks of a rather liberal Lady
from what I can gather! In my mind, though, the best of the jazzy cuts is the SUPERB vocal cut,
“Sausalito” which is Bossa Nova and then some. If you love the warm Latin flavours
then this is the song for you. Come on, George, I am still waiting for the “Brasillian
Love Affair 2” that you promised us. That would definitely be one hell of an album with
material this strong! I start thinking of sitting (lolloping?!) on the beach at Sao Paulo
and am thrown back to that great movie, “Blame It On Rio”. I definitely could not cope either!
Anyway, I digress.
“Saturday Night” brings me back down to reality with its warm and easy groove – the type
George says his mother used to like. Mom had great taste, George. “Hybrids” is a mammoth
track lasting 18:26 – not exactly my cup of tea but it shows how versatile George is.
I think in time this will grow on me. I am pleased that George is still out there
laying down his tunes, and that he’s doing it all off his own back. More power to him,
I say. Round of applause to Dome here in the UK for picking this set up, too.
Dome Records really are going out for the quality US material – Angela Johnson, Brenda Russell
and Dennis Taylor spring to mind too. Do not overlook this little gem.
- Barry Towler