George Duke – Dreamweaver

OK, let’s pretend that we don’t know about the recent tragedy in George Duke’s life and let’s pretend that I haven’t been a crazy fan for over 35 years – it’s going to be hard! Also, I’ll try to stay away from comparisons with other artists’ music – I’ll tell you how these songs make me feel.

I love the way that George conjures up a mood with a short intro – or outro. The one at the start of “Reach for It” has always grabbed my attention, and the synth-heavy title track here has the same effect. It’s spacey, slightly threatening and over headphones you are completely absorbed, despite its brevity. The scene is perfectly set for “Stones of Orion”, which finds George at the piano and Stanley Clarke (of course – you cry!) on upright bass providing a wash of cinematic sound, filled out with flute and some gorgeous brass. It is – and I mean this in the most complimentary way – 70’s big-city cop show writ large. Or at least it is until the rimshots mark a different tempo and George’s love of Latin music reveals itself. You’d expect Stanley to step forward with a solo and it’s a tasteful one. The whole song feels like an embrace for me and far from transporting me to another world, it makes me long for the warm sunshine of California.

Dukey funk meets the best of clipped urban beats on “Trippin’” and the sparse production here is sublime. There are whispers of muted trumpet, acoustic guitar, that squelchy Dukey synth and George’s vocal, which – let me tell you – sounds as good as ever. Hypnotic stuff. On “AshTray”, Dukey funk (or should that be ‘fonk’?) meets more Dukey funk. Crisp drumming, filthy slapped bass, some crazy guitar licks and some tasty electric piano make this a funk jam that you’ll be playing for days!! That’s before you dig out all your other Dukey treats…

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