Album Remarks & Appraisals:
When the multitalented George Duke passed away in August of 2013, his loss was felt throughout the musical community. Indeed, the keyboardist composer- producer's impact on jazz, pop and R&B over the past forty years is nearly impossible to calculate.
Duke collaborated with some of the most prominent figures in the industry as a musician (beginning with Jean-Luc Ponty, Frank Zappa, and Dizzy Gillespie) and as a producer, crafting dozens of recordings - many of them GRAMMY winners. Starting in the 1980s, Duke produced hits for the likes of Barry Manilow, Smokey Robinson, the Pointer Sisters, Al Jarreau, Gladys Knight, Anita Baker, Jeffrey Osborne and Deniece Williams. Busy outside of the studio as well, Duke took on the role as musical director for several large-scale events, including the 1988 Nelson Mandela tribute concert at London's Wembley Stadium. The following year, he served as musical director of NBC's acclaimed late-night music performance program, Sunday Night.
When not producing his peers, George Duke was in the studio himself, ultimately releasing close to 40 solo and duet records, many of which brought him hits in the jazz and R&B world. 1992's Snapshot hit #1 on the Contemporary Jazz Album charts, as did 2008's Dukey Treats. 1999's After Hours scored Duke a GRAMMY Nomination for Best Contemporary Jazz Performance, while nearly 20 original songs of Dukes' have topped the Billboard R&B Singles charts, with 1978's "Reach For It" peaking at #2. Duke's influence still runs strong today, with many contemporary artists, including Kanye West & Common, Daft Punk and 9th Wonder, sampling his catalog.
The George Duke Collection focuses on the versatile artist's time on the Heads-Up label - an era, seemingly, of reflection: whether Duke found himself returning to his funk roots, employing his signature synth sounds and vintage techniques in the studio (Déjà Vu), or paying tribute to his beloved wife, after her passing (Dreamweaver). The Collection includes plenty of upbeat funk, as well as introspective pieces, like the autobiographical "Trippin'." Famous friends join in too: "Ball & Chain" features the late Teena Marie, while Rachelle Ferrell, Wayman Tisdale and Sheila E. join a handful of other luminaries on these tracks. A compilation for new and old fans alike, The George Duke Collection finds an artist who was 40 years into his career, yet still riding high on the top of his game when he left us, much too soon.
Audio Mixer: Erik Zobler.