Music Reviews

George Duke

Face The Music


I guess I should’ve known what to expect. Together with Stanley Clarke, George Duke, in the early ’80s, was in the intrepid vanguard of a group of refugee jazz musicians who, like vampires, drained the life from jazz, R&B, and even earlier forms of fusion to create “smooth jazz.” From this lifeless husk sprouted the Quiet Storm and Smooth Jazz Flavors stations where Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald, Joe Sample, and Kenny G can be heard ad nauseum. And, grabbing the Maalox, I could do nothing but envision the Chuck Mangione commercials with the late-night view of Metropolis, the Lady in Red dancing across the screen, snifters of brandy, and my dad in his shiny jogging suit, haranguing, “William, you just don’t appreciate fine music.” If this CD were any smoother it’d be a frictionless surface, any tamer it would train other CDs to use the litter box, any more commercial it would be a Value Meal. Now, admittedly, Duke sure can play that piano, but he plays it smooth. Babies’ bottoms and cream puffs – neither of which sound all that good in my stereo.

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