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Master of the Game

George Duke

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Album Review

Although George Duke first made his mark as a jazz instrumentalist, late-1970s classics like Reach for It, Don't Let Go, and Follow the Rainbow made it clear that he could also be an expressive R&B singer. But he didn't want to handle all of the lead vocals himself; so during that period, his role was that of a producer/keyboardist/songwriter who was more than happy to share the lead vocals with Lynn Davis, Josie James, and others. Davis enjoyed a lot of exposure on R&B stations when, in 1979, Duke featured her on "I Want You for Myself," the haunting single that made Master of the Game one of his best-selling albums. Her charismatic performance makes the listener wonder why she never had a solo career; the talent was certainly there. This album contains a few jazz fusion instrumentals (including the Latin-flavored "Dog-Man"), but it's an R&B release first and foremost — and those who like Duke as an R&B artist will find this album to be enjoyable, if less than essential. "I Want You for Myself" and the mellow, Stylistics-influenced "Every Little Step I Take" are gems, but most of the other selections are merely decent instead of excellent. On the whole, this album isn't in a class with Reach for It, Don't Let Go, or Follow the Rainbow, which are arguably his most essential R&B-oriented albums. But it has more pluses than minuses and is worth having in your collection if you're a serious fans of Duke's late 1970s/early 1980s output.

Biography

Born: 12 January 1946 in San Rafael, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

George Duke was an accomplished keyboardist, producer, arranger, bandleader, and composer. He was successful in both popular music and jazz, and straddled both sides of that aisle for most of his career. Duke grew up in Marin City, California, and in high school played in his first jazz group. His early influences were Miles Davis, Les McCann, and Cal Tjader, all of whom played a role in the diversity of his composing, playing, and arranging. After graduating from high school, he attended the San...
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Master of the Game, George Duke
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