In many ways, George Duke can best be described as a pioneer of contemporary jazz funk. As one of the original funk meisters, George has been tantalizing the groove fantastic for more than forty years and his discography chronicles more than 30 releases to date; on top of that, as a solo artist his musical resume reads like a “Who’s Who in Jazz.” He has either recorded or toured with Dee Dee Bridgewater, Miles Davis, Stanley Clarke, Al Jarreau, his cousin Dianne Reeves, Jean-Luc Ponty, Flora Purim, Cannonball Adderley, Anita Baker, Regina Belle and a host of others to name a few. George’s latest Heads Up International release entitled ‘Dukey Treats’ is a continuing saga of funk-oriented jams that will re-visit Duke’s mid level career path. As consistent as he has been over the years, George’s mainstay has always been his inventiveness and his ability to forge groundbreaking forays into the unknown realm of originality.
When listening to ‘Dukey Treats’, the CD is reminiscent of George’s earlier work during the 1970s and early ’80s. This is George Duke at his finest and this release comes at a time when the mundane sound of today’s smooth jazz is at its highest. The opportunity to get up close and personal with some serious sounding music is a definite respite from the pop sound bytes that is often disguised as relevant jazz music. What Duke has done with his latest release is activate a soulful blend of energized rhythms. In addition, he has invited a host of other musicians to help him traverse the funk fantastic. Listen for saxophonist Everette Harp, trumpeter Michael “Patches”Stewart, bassist Michael Manson, percussionist Sheila E., drummers Leon “Ndugu” Chancler and Vinnie Colaiuta to take ‘Dukey Treats’ to another level of listening enjoyment.
Although George is widely known for his funk antics, he also has the ability to melodically serve up a heaping helping of synthesized ballads. Tracks such as “Listen Baby” and “I Tried To Tell You” go the distance towards deviating from funk energy supplied by Duke. As with most of his work, George’s well-rounded versatility has been documented many times over. But the statement most often made on ‘Dukey Treats’ is a sound that epitomizes a more robust approach to jazz, one that fuses R&B and contemporary sounding rhythms into one unique blend of groove-laden funk ideologies. When examining the very essence of what George Duke has done with ‘Dukey Treats’, the energized dynamics attached to this release plays very well on every track. Overall, as a composer, keyboardist, vocalist and funk messenger, contemporary jazz is once again highlighted as an American original.
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