Ultimate George Duke

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Mosaic Records Contemporary series Ultimate George Duke, simply put, is not. Duke is such an enigma and musical chameleon, to this day he can't be pinned down from one recording to the next: he's done it all, been a jazz pianist solo and as a sideman, an early electronic jazz pioneer, he's written classically themed and new age-ish suites, collaborated with some of the greatest Brazilian musicians and recorded there, and been a bona fide pop star and producer. He even worked with Frank Zappa, and the late great Zappa appeared on Feel in 1974, the first of a trio of classic Duke recordings that also included Faces in Reflection from the same year and I Love the Blues, She ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Mosaic Records Contemporary series Ultimate George Duke, simply put, is not. Duke is such an enigma and musical chameleon, to this day he can't be pinned down from one recording to the next: he's done it all, been a jazz pianist solo and as a sideman, an early electronic jazz pioneer, he's written classically themed and new age-ish suites, collaborated with some of the greatest Brazilian musicians and recorded there, and been a bona fide pop star and producer. He even worked with Frank Zappa, and the late great Zappa appeared on Feel in 1974, the first of a trio of classic Duke recordings that also included Faces in Reflection from the same year and I Love the Blues, She Heard My Cry in 1975 for the MPS label. The 11 cuts here feature a cross section of material Duke cut between 1977 and 2002. While that may seem to be a wide enough chronological array to justify calling something "ultimate," it misses. The set opens, for instance, with the title cut of Duke's breakout crossover hit "Reach for It" on Epic in 1977. This is problematic since none of the MPS material is here, and those are recordings which have stood the test of time, been critically looked at and reappraised, have been sampled by endless DJs, and played considerably by influential 21st century taste makers like Gilles Peterson. Ultimate follows the hits from there: the silly yet monstrously successful novelty hit "Dukey Stick," from Don't Let Go a year later. These give barely a taste of the truly monster funk Duke was laying down in those years. Deeply influenced by the P-Funk crew, Duke was a master producer and studio ace and took it around the bend. "Say That You Will," from 1979's Follow the Rainbow and the title cut reflect Duke's ability to steep funk, soul and jazz from a decade earlier and the Brazilian samba into his own stew and come up with something different. Both cuts were hits. "Love Ballad," and "Same Ole Love," from Night After Night a decade later, reflect Duke's moving in a direction that Earl Klugh, Bob James, Dave Grusin, and David Sanborn had taken much earlier. He's still walking the line between the emerging smooth jazz and light funk, while the funk rhythmic backdrop of the '70s is still a prime motivating factor. The cuts from Snapshot, issued in 1992, are simply unimaginative compared to everything that precedes them. They are standard generic smooth jazz fare, and despite Duke's singing or attempt at it here, they don't cut it. In other words, the previous four cuts could have been left off in favor of other things that showcase the man's range. The set redeems itself a bit with the smooth jazzy soul tracks from 2000s Cool "Love Can Be So Cold," and "She's Amazing", where Duke's vocals are in top form, and the accompaniment is very sparse with just Ray Fuller's guitar, Duke's battery of keyboards and drum machines, and a backing chorus of female vocalists. The final cut, "My Piano," from 2002's wildly adventurous Face the Music illustrates the visionary side of Duke that began with his apprenticeship with Cannonball Adderley in the '60s. From Caribbean, African and Brazilian folk elements played by a nine-piece jazz band -- with horn section -- and a trio of backing vocalists, Duke takes the tune through the jazz tradition and R&B while losing one of the folk flavors. This is far from a perfect collection since it bogs in the middle, and leaves off the MPS material, but there are some great tracks here.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/8/2007
  • Label: Mosaic Contemporary
  • UPC: 094922697493
  • Catalog Number: 7003
  • Sales rank: 46,959

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Reach for It (4:56)
  2. 2 Dukey Stick (6:10)
  3. 3 Say That You Will (3:07)
  4. 4 Brazilian Love Affair (4:58)
  5. 5 Love Ballad (4:41)
  6. 6 Same Ole Love (4:34)
  7. 7 No Rhyme, No Reason (5:48)
  8. 8 6 O'Clock (4:37)
  9. 9 Love Can Be So Cold (5:43)
  10. 10 She's Amazing (4:44)
  11. 11 My Piano (7:29)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
George Duke Primary Artist, Piano, Keyboards, Vocals, Rap
Rachelle Ferrell Background Vocals
Phil Perry Background Vocals
Roland Bautista Guitar
Jean Carn Vocals, Rap
Chanté Moore Background Vocals
Dennis Chambers Drums
Oscar Brashear Trumpet
Napoleon Murphy Brock Vocals, Background Vocals
Alexandra Brown Background Vocals
Carl Carlwell Background Vocals
Carl Carwell Background Vocals
Lenny Castro Percussion
Leon "Ndugu" Chancler Drums, Vocals, Rap
Lynn Davis Background Vocals
Sheila E. Percussion
Sheila Escovedo Percussion, Vocals, Rap
Ray Fuller Guitar
Jim Gilstrap Background Vocals
Gary Grant Trumpet
Everette Harp Alto Saxophone
Jerry Hey Trumpet
Dan Higgins Tenor Saxophone
Paul Jackson Jr. Guitar
Josie James Vocals, Background Vocals
Jef Lee Johnson Guitar
Larry Kimpel Bass, Bass Guitar
Ricky Lawson Drums
Christian McBride Bass, Bass Guitar
Byron Miller Bass, Bass Guitar, Vocals, Rap
Lori Perry Background Vocals
Carolyn Perry Background Vocals
Flora Purim Vocals, Rap
Lil John Roberts Drums
John "J.R." Robinson Drums
Marc Russo Alto Saxophone
Deborah Thomas Vocals, Rap
Sybil Thomas Vocals, Rap
Kenya Hathaway Background Vocals
Icarus Johnson Guitar
Freddie "Ready Freddie" Washington Bass, Bass Guitar
William Frank "Bill" Reichenbach Jr. Trombone
Isaac Smith Trombone
Airto Percussion
Larry Williams Tenor Saxophone
Larry E. Williams Tenor Saxophone
Charles Icarus Johnson Guitar, Vocals
Don Hendricks Vocals
Technical Credits
George Duke Composer, Producer, Audio Production
Matt Pierson Producer, Liner Notes, Audio Production
Mark Larson Art Direction
Steve Fallone Mastering
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    Posted October 22, 2009

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