Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Veteran keyboardist and producer George Duke remembers a time when funk was a powerful force not just in popular music but in social discourse. Frequently with a measure of wit and irony, and often with a strong dose of positivity at the core, titans like James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone and other funk icons of the `60s and `70s boldly addressed societal concerns ranging from poverty to racial disharmony to the battle of the sexes. Among the numerous treats on this album are not just the songs themselves but the roster of high-profile personnel helping to bring them to life many of them alumni of Duke's earlier bands and projects. Included on the guest list are bassist Christian McBride, percussionist Sheila E and trumpeter Michael Patches Stuart, to name a few. Along with Duke himself, the vocal crew includes Jonathan Butler, Howard Hewett, Teena Marie, Rachelle Ferrell and more.
Down Beat (p.69) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "It's great to hear producer extraordinaire George Duke bust out with the soul music he apparently grew up loving -- and with some social punch, as well."
JazzTimes (p.75) - "'Listen Baby' is a time-capsule R&B ballad straight from the '70s showcasing Duke's falsetto, and 'Right on Time' matches it in style but with Rachelle Ferrell's sweet soul matching Duke's for intensity."
Personnel: George Duke (vocals, guitar, piano, Fender Rhodes piano, Clavinet, keyboards, synthesizer, vibraphone); Leon "Ndugu" Chancler (vocals, rap vocals, drums); Josie James (vocals, rap vocals, background vocals); Howard Hewett, Lori Perry, Lynn Davis , Kenya Hathaway, Byron Miller, Napoleon Murphy Brock (vocals, rap vocals); Christian McBride (vocals, upright bass); Lil John Roberts (vocals, drums); Jim Gilstrap, Jonathan Butler, Lynne Fiddmont, Rachelle Ferrell, Teena Marie, Terry Dexter (vocals); Sheila E. (rap vocals, percussion); Darrell Cox (rap vocals); Jef Lee Johnson (guitar, acoustic guitar); Teddy Campbell (guitar, drums); Larry Kimpel, Wah-Wah Watson, Ray Fuller (guitar); Everette Harp (alto saxophone); Dan Higgins, Larry Andrew Williams, Kamasi Washington (tenor saxophone); Michael "Patches" Stewart (trumpet); Reggie C. Young (trombone); Vinnie Colaiuta (drums); Lenny Castro (percussion).
Audio Mixer: Erik Zobler.
Recording information: Le Gonks West, Los Angeles, CA.
Photographer: Bobby Holland .
Throughout his multi-decade career, George Duke has accompanied such luminaries as Frank Zappa and Jean-Luc Ponty, he's shone brightly on both acoustic and electric keyboards, and he's led or co-led cutting-edge and funky fusion bands. Without coming across as overtly old-school, DUKEY TREATS finds Duke revisiting assorted styles and approaches that helped make him a bestselling and enduring performer. Some tracks are fluid fusion jazz that highlight skillful musicianship; others pay clever but heartfelt homage to the creative soul and funk of Marvin Gaye, Prince, and the Gap Band. Vocals guests Jonathan Butler and Teena Marie help make this a set of tasty TREATS.