Saturday, 8 August 2009

Sir Duke

Being a cautious fan of Zappa's One Size Fits All - cautious partly because my favourite song on the album, the gorgeous 'Inca Roads', features lyrics regarding ugly groupies (not keen) as well as sci-fi creation theories (very keen) - I've been exploring the work of keyboard maestro George Duke, specifically the 1974 trio of albums over which the analogue synthesizer became more and more the dominant instrument, Faces In Reflection, Feel and The Aura Will Prevail.

Much of this stuff, especially Feel, is every bit the equal of Herbie Hancock's work around the same time such as Thrust, perhaps even Headhunters (an album I've always found a little flat and boring after the excitement of the Mwandishi trilogy) and is notable for some completely off-the-hook synth playing. Duke's often neglected as an electric jazz pioneer, and while his later work did slip into the same disco pit as Hancock, these three albums are worth investigating for anyone who loves fusion, prog... or the squelchy splendour of analogue synthesizers.

Here's 'Old Slippers' from Feel, which features not only some vintage wobble from Duke but also a badass guitar solo from Frank Zappa: