I confess to having déjà vu when I’ve listened to George Duke’s recent recordings but that’s not a bad thing – with Duke, there’s comfort in the grooves he produces no matter how familiar.
As Quincy Jones is to pop, Duke is to jazz and R&B – his skill at assembling first-class session players on projects for artists like Dianne Reeves, Anita Baker and Dee Dee Bridgewater is as refined as his production standards. The polish of Duke’s style is fully evident on “Déjà Vu” (Heads Up), a slick tour-de-force where Duke reboots some his past – think spacey synthesizers, deeply funky bass lines, exaggerated percussion and knock out soloing. His dutiful vocals carry the bounce on “You Touched My Brain” and fuel the retro new-jack swing on “6 O’clock Revisited.” But its Duke’s keyboard work that remains vital and engaging to the core, particularly on the instrumental cuts “Oh, Really” and “What Goes Around Comes Around.” All ten tracks are originals with strong contributions from trumpeter Oscar Brashear on the Miles Davis tribute, “Ripple Time,” flutist Hubert Laws and two under-the-radar appearances by trumpeter Nicholas Payton. Duke’s been doing his own thing for the last 40 years and “Déjà vu” is a perfect soul-jazz chill out album with more than a hint of nostalgia. (10 tracks; 55:55 minutes) www.georgeduke.com
Labels: Anita Baker, Dianne Reeves, George Duke, Heads Up, Hubert Laws, Miles Davis, Nicholas Payton, Oscar Brashear