Thursday, December 18, 2014



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. 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. ~ Amazon


The soaring spirit of Blue Note Records – served up here with a really special twist to fit the mode of the Free Soul series! The package is overflowing with goodness – four hours' worth of listening, with a special focus on two periods of the label – that great late 60s/early 70s stretch when they were trying out so many new ideas and rhythms, including elements borrowed from soul, Latin, fusion, and Brazilian modes – and the more recent stretch that has seen Blue Note re-emerge as one of the most forward-thinking labels in jazz! CDs 1 and 2 feature older gems – including "Lover To Lover" by Maxi Anderson, "Kathy" by Moacir Santos, "As" by Gene Harris, "Tuesday Heartbreak" by Ronnie Foster, "Harlem River Drive" by Bobbi Humphrey, "To See A Smile" by Ronnie Foster, "Where Are We Going" by Donald Byrd, "You're Welcome Stop On By" by Lou Donaldson, "Save The Children" by Marlena Shaw, "Move Your Hand" by Lonnie Smith, "In Pursuit Of The 27th Man" by Horace Silver, "Early Morning Love" by Moacir Santos, "Montara" by Bobby Hutcherson, and "Stormy" by Duke Pearson. CD3 features newer work – including "Come To My Door" by Jose James, "Holding Onto You" by Derrick Hodge, "Maiden Voyage" by Dianne Reeves, "Praise" by Aaron Parks, "You're Still The One" by Otis Brown III with Gretchen Parlato, "Ain't Misbehavin" by Jason Moran with Meshell Ndegeocello, "No Love Dying" by Gregory Porter, "Afro Blue" by Robert Glasper with Erykah Badu, "Please Set Me At Ease" by Madlib, and "Won't You Open Up Your Senses" by 4Hero with Vanessa Freeman. ~ Dusty Groove


A funky jazz treasure – and the band's landmark first album! The Blackbyrds were a legendary 70s combo that were discovered by Donald Byrd while he was teaching at Howard University – and they had a tight style that mixed raw funk influences with smoother jazz playing, creating a sound that was different from many of their contemporaries, and which pushed funk and soul into a whole new level. Byrd's work with the band was as groundbreaking as Larry Mizell's work on his own Blue Note albums – and coincidentally, Larry Mizzell's Sky High Productions handles the studio chores for the set – but in a way that's much more sharply funky than his albums with Byrd! Titles include the tight choppy funk tracks "Do It, Fluid" and "Funky Junkie", plus other nice groovers like "Summer Love", "Gut Level", and "The Runaway".  ~Dusty Groove

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