Friday, November 20, 2009

George Duke - My Soul - The Complete MPS Fusion Recordings

George Duke’s career expands four solid decades melting the boundaries of jazz, funk, R&B, rock, fusion and even humoresque songwriting. As an accomplished performer, keyboardist, producer and singer he has worked on and he has produced successful albums and tracks for Natalie Cole, Smokey Robinson, Philip Bailey, Jeffrey Osborne, Deniece Williams, George Howard, Dianne Reeves, The Pointer Sisters, 101 North, Najee, Jeffrey Osborne, Take 6, Howard Hewett, Chante Moore, Everette Harp, Rachelle Ferrell, Miles Davis, Al Jarreau and Gladys Knight among others. His collaboration with Stanley Clarke even penned them the number one single “Sweet Baby” with The Clarke/Duke Project. He has also collaborated with some the best jazz musicians such as Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, Billy Cobham, Flora Purim, John Scofield, Jean-Luc Ponty, Alphonso Johnson and he was a member of Frank Zappa’s band. But his solo career is where we find Duke at his best. His fusion of jazz, R&B, Brazilian rhythms, amazing song-writing and humor makes his solo albums treasures for any fan of these musical styles. His Fender Rhodes electric piano and his synthesizer sounds are unmistakable. Duke got his early career start at the European Label MPS and “My Soul - The Complete MPS Fusion Recordings” documents Duke’s chronological growth as a pianist, keyboardist, composer and producer on his six releases (less his 1966 MPS debut) grouped on four CDs. This testament of Duke’s career remains strong and compelling over three decades later. Six amazing albums put together, back to back, re-mastered and at a great price available at George Duke's website.

1971's “Solus (The Inner Source)” was a double album featuring two releases intended to be put out separately “Solus” and “The Inner Source” and it is the jazziest session of the box-set. It features bassist John Heard and drummer Dick Berk. Duke's collaboration with saxophonist Cannonball Adderley is evident as he mixes his trademark electric and acoustic pianos with the traditional jazz tendencies of his early career. On “The Inner Source” the influence of Duke’s participation on Cannonball Adderley’s band becomes apparent as Duke expands the band with Luis Gasca on trumpet and flugelhorn, Jerome Richardson on saxophone and Armando Peraza on congas.
“Solus / The Inner Source” - Original Track Listing:
1. Au-Right
2. Love Reborn
3. Peace
4. So There You Go
5. The Followers
6. Solus
7. Nigerian Numberuma
8. My Soul
9. The Inner Source
10. Life
11. Sometime Ago
12. Feels So Good (sampled above)
13. Manya
14. Sweet Bite
15. Twenty-five
16. Always Constant

Duke's next record, 1974's “Faces in Reflection” still features the trio format with bassist John Heard and drummer Leon "Ndugu" Chancler, but the influence of Zappa begins to creep into the more complex, challenging and rhythmically aggressive compositions. Duke begins to increment the use of synthesizers, clavinets and electric pianos as he utilizes those to compliment the textures of the recording and to perform amazing solos. His vocals appear as layered textures.
"Faces in Reflection"- Original Track Listing:
1. The Opening (sampled above)
2. Capricorn
3. Piano Solo No. 1
4. Piano Solo No. 2
5. Psychocomatic Drug
6. Faces in Reflection No. 1
7. Maria Tres Filhos
8. North Beach
9. Da Somba
10. Faces in Reflection No. 2
Buy "Faces In Reflection" at Amazon or ITunes

On “Feel” (1974), Duke begins to show his stronger tendencies towards fusion based on funk and R&B while extending the use of synthesizers and vocals. "Feel" features the same trio of bassist John Heard and drummer Leon "Ndugu" Chancler as in “Faces in Reflection”, but this time personnel includes percussionist Airto Moreira, singer Flora Purim and guitar solos by "Obdewl'l X" (Frank Zappa, playing under a pseudonymous).
“Fell”- Original Track Listing:
1. Funny Funk
2. Love
3. The Once Over
4. Feel
5. Corea Jobege
6. Old Slippers
7. Theme from The Opera "Tzina"
8. Yana Aminah
9. Rashid (sampled above)
10. Statement

Buy "Feel" at Amazon or Buy it at Itunes

“I Love The Blues, She Heard My Cry” expands the funk/R&B feel in grandiose form while keeping the jazz-rock fusion element present at all times. Duke’s songwriting has become more focused on the pop-form and the extensive use of guitars makes this release stand out as a milestone in Duke’ career. Duke’s amazing chops and his extensive use of layered and solo synthesizers complement the influence of Zappa. Personnel includes percussionist Ruth Underwood, trombonist Tom Fowler, bassist Tom Fowler, percussionist Airto Moreira, singer Flora Purim and drummer Leon "Ndugu" Chancler with guest appearances from guitarists George Johnson (The Brothers Johnson), Lee Ritenour, Daryl Stuermer (Jean-Luc Ponty, Phil Collins, Genesis) and Johnny "Guitar" Watson.
“I Love the Blues, She Heard My Cry”- Original Track Listing:
1. Chariot
2. Look Into Her Eyes
3. Sister Serene
4. That's What She Said (sampled above)
5. Mashavu
6. Rokkinrowl, I Don't Know
7. Prepare Yourself
8. Giant Child Within Us – Ego
9. Someday
10. I Love the Blues, She Heard My Cry

Buy “I Love the Blues, She Heard My Cry” at iTunes

In 1975 Duke released “The Aura Will Prevail”, which resembles more the style of the album “Feel”. The power trio format returns with long-time partner drummer Leon "Ndugu" Chancler and the new addition to the band bassist Alphonso Johnson of Weather Report fame. Airto Moreria lends a large hand on the percussion department. Although this is a largely instrumental album with plenty of amazing solos and performances, Duke ventures again into the singing realm with great success and the rhythms contributed by Airto Moreira provide a beautiful back up for the Brazilian influenced compositions.

“Liberated Fantasies” released in 1976 is Duke's final fusion disc for MPS and as such it completes this cycle of Duke’s career by consolidating all the musical styles and influences that converged and paved the way for the rest of his career until nowadays. This melting-pot of fusion combines the jazz, the soul, the funk, the gospel, the Zappa-esque, the Brazilian, the keyboardist, the composer, the producer, the songwriter and the amazing pianist within Duke. Personnel includes Duke on keyboards, pianos, synthesizers and bass, drummer Leon "Ndugu" Chancler, bassist Alphonso Johnson, Airto Moreria on percussion, George Johnson, Daryl Stuermer, David Amaro on guitars, Emil Richards on marimba plus vocals by Napoleon Murphy Brook, Janet Ferguson Holf, Bonnie Bowden Amaro, Rashid Duke and Ruth Underwood.

Buy "My Soul - Box Set" at Duke's Website

More MPS recordings at: MPS-Love, Promising Music or MPS Germany

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