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George Duke – Dreamweaver

June 18, 2013

With the lead and title track drifting along in a dreamlike state, GRAMMY award-winning master producer/keyboardist/composer/arranger George Duke, an icon for the ages without a doubt, offers his first release since the death of his beloved wife Corine. The CD is entitled Dreamweaver, and Duke says he just had to do this to get back on track after being so unmotivated after the tragedy. He calls this latest work of art his “most honest album in several years.”

The master keyboardist/producer was again stirred in re-entering the music world and the studio while on a Capital Jazz Cruise. For the first couple of days, he didn’t play any music but did check out some of the other bands. On the third day, returning to his cabin at around 4 a.m., inspiration struck. Sitting on the deck as the sun came up, a couple of tunes came to mind, he took to pen and paper, and here we are — Duke in one of his finest moments in life, making that eclectic and soul-stirring music.

Dreamweaver, available on July 16, comes packed with guest talent, such as bassists Christian McBride and Stanley Clarke, vocalists Lalah Hathaway, Rachelle Ferrell, the late Teena Marie, and Jeffrey Osborne; guitarists Paul Jackson, Jr. and the late Jef Lee Johnson, among others.

As is always the case with Duke, the CD is full of everything from soup to nuts. Totally touting diversity, so many tracks are easily my faves. They would include the sweet and light mid-tempo autobiographical “Trippin’,” the strong and funky “Ashtray,” and the inspirational “Change the World,” a tune done much in the tradition of “We Are the World” and the late Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,”  the highly charged, high-steppin’ “Jazzmatazz,” the slick, tongue-in-cheek “Round The Way Girl,” and the drivin’ “You Never Know.”  There are more (this is a generous CD of 15 tracks with one mind-blowing 15-minute track,“Burnt Sausage Jam,”which is  simply a must-hear).

There is also the charming, bluesy ballad from the late vocalist Teena Marie. It’s a track on which Duke worked with Marie to place on her 2009 album Congo Square. Afterward, Marie wanted Duke to produce a full-length jazz album for her. This track was to be included on that album before Marie’s passing. Duke presented the track for inclusion on Beautiful, the 2013 posthumous album from Marie, but the producers declined. So, with the blessings of Marie’s daughter, Alia Rose, and Marie’s estate, he added it here.

Duke fans – and fans of good jazz everywhere – should view this as the consummate Duke, back from so much pain to the inspired artist we have come to know and love. You can bet that Corine smiles upon him just for having worked through the grief enough to present this wonderful work which just has to be therapeutic to him. Two thumbs up. – Ronald Jackson

Note: At the time of posting, no Amazon mp3 sampler was available for this CD. As soon as it becomes available, we will post it here.

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