His imposing appearance signals: George Duke is the heavyweight of contemporary jazz. His music is legend and inestimable. George has performed with the most important musicians of the last century and his spectrum ranges from jazz to funk, from soul to pop.

His previous album Dukey Treats (2008) was a funky mental, physical and spiritual healing. The return to the funny funk in the style of George Clinton's Parliament. His new album Déjà Vu is another flashback to the sound of the past.

“The whole idea behind Déjà Vu was to take a look back at some of the stuff I used to do that was a little more musically challenging,” comments Duke. “In some way or another, whatever happened before always comes around again. It may be a little different, but it will resurface. That’s kind of what this album is – a resurfacing of some ideas I had back in the ‘70s when I recorded albums with a lot of synthesizers, like Feel and The Aura Will Prevail.

George Duke welcomes on his new album many great musicians of the smooth jazz scene like Michael Manson (bass), Paul Jackson (guitars), Ronald Brunner jr. (drums), Nicholas Payton (trumpet), Everette Harp (sax), Ray Fuller (guitar), Bob Sheppard (sax) and many more. He holds all cards in his hand with a full house.

The introducing track is simply entitled A Melody. Latin flavored in the good old fashion way singers Terry Dexter, Lynne Fiddmont, Lamont Van Hook and Shannon Pearson let it swing. George Duke's sophisticated approach to the synthesizers speaks a lot about his deep masterly knowledge of these instruments.

You Touch My Brain was originally recorded for Dukey Treats but didn't make it on the album. “I put it together for this record using some weird old clavinets and Wurlitzers and other vintage instruments – stuff that would give it that vintage ‘60s sound,” says Duke. “I had everyone in the room at the same time for that track, and we just did it, so it has that spontaneous feel.” All musicians flawlessly transpose the bluesy idea behind this piece.

On What Goes Around Comes Around George Duke lets return the vocoder as stylistic feature. While Everette Harp shares the lead with George Duke, for me is another thing an eye opener. George is a formidable drum programmer showcasing today's possibilities of modern programming. Bring Me Joy is foremost a silky and fine ballade full of soul. Unbelievable how humanized emotional Rhodes, Korg and Mini Moog can sound. Just brilliant is George's treat of the cool vibes in a piano-soft attack.

The opening of Ripple In Time is build like a sound collage. The track is a tribute to Miles Davis interpreted by trumpist Oscar Brashear. “It was fun to have Oscar do his Miles imitation on this track,” says Duke. “It conjures up that period for Miles in the ‘70s when he was doing some of his more funky stuff with the strange chords underneath.” Although the piece is structured George surprises with Jef Lee Johnson's powerful rockish guitar performance.

Do you feel the fun the musicians have on Oh Really? George enthuses: "My old Wurlitzer 140B sounds like it’s stuffed with socks – and that Castlebar Clavinet – oh boi!!! I can’t neglect that organ – whew, kinda fonky but plenty jazzy at the same time."

Duke transforms the song  from his album Snapshot (1992) to 6 O'Clock Revisited with a expanded lyrical story sharing the vocals with his son Rashid Duke accompanied by Ray Fuller on guitar. Sometimes you just have to sit back listening to the splendid balladeer George Duke and enjoying Come To Me Now.

Stupid Is As Stupid Does indicates that a person is judged stupid by the stupid acts he commits. In this case Bob Sheppard, Nicholas Payton, Hubert Laws and Ron Brunner give George Duke's key mastery an intelligent answer. On Déjà Vu George Duke exposes violinist Sarah Thornblade. The similarity to the Mahavishnu Orchestra experience is intended.

George Duke summarizes: "I try to take people on a musical journey, whether it’s on an album or in a show. I think the style of music that you choose to play is really irrelevant, as long as you’re honest about what you’re trying to present." This is the surreal aspect of music: you remark the spellbinding effect, when the music fades away. George Duke's composition is the royal ambience for every lover of good music.








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Album Information

Title: Déjà Vu
Artist: George Duke
Year: 2010
Length: 0:55:54
Genre: General Jazz
Label: Heads Up International


01 A Melody [4:31]
02 You Touch My Brain [6:24]
03 What Goes Around Comes Around [5:35]
04 Bring Me Joy [4:48]
05 Ripple In Time [6:34]
06 Oh Really? [5:53]
07 6 O'Clock Revisited [4:28]
08 Come To Me Now [5:51]
09 Stupid Is As Stupid Does [6:43]
10 Déjà Vu [5:06]

Further review:

Dukey Treats