A fairly recent discovery for me, George Duke was one of the finest Jazz keyboardists at the forefront of the birth of Jazz Fusion, his work on the 1969 record ‘The Jean-Luc Ponty Experience with The George Duke Trio’ is considered among the first ever Fusion releases. During the late 60s and early 70s Duke continued on the fusion trail with the help of the Fender Rhodes a keyboard that defined the 70s spaced out Jazz sounds and the track ‘North Beach’ from his 1974 release Faces in Reflection a perfect example of that.
Having released over 30 albums as well as performing, writing and producing on a load more Duke created a wide range of styles and the next 2 tracks look at the funkier side of the man and his work during the late 70s and early 80s (a period you can probably tell I’m very fond of). First up a track from his 1979 record Master of the Game, a brilliant funk and disco influenced record with a number of great tracks including ‘I Love You More’ that many will recognise being sampled by a couple of French robots, I’ve gone for the track ‘I Want You For Myself’ an excellent dancefloor filler. Next up the beautiful boogie number ‘Reach Out’ from his 1983 record Guardian of the Light, a boogie monster that will get bums wiggling all day long. Check out this brilliant footage of Duke and his buds jamming out this beauty in Tokyo, round the 3.30 mark the funk levels and bass slapping are off the charts, serious real dudes at work!
As I mentioned earlier Duke collaborated with a number of artists but probably his most notable collaborator was Frank Zappa, with Duke contributing time and time again for Zappa and The Mothers. Going through the stuff Duke contributed on it’s no coincidence that he seems to always be involved in the Zappa/Mothers stuff I like most (there’s quite a lot I still don’t like) and for my final choice I’ve gone back to 1974 and picked The Mothers classic ‘Inca Roads’, when Zappa gets it right it is sooo fucking good and Duke is usually there to help out. Here is some footage of The Mothers with Duke performing Inca Roads, check out the nutzoid claymation freak out half way through, heavy shit maaaaaan!