10 Songs, 45 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

George Duke was the rare musician who was equally respected as a jazz virtuoso, a pop songwriter, and a purveyor of heavyweight funk jams. Though Duke recorded several albums of exploratory fusion jazz, this collection focuses on his crossover success. It works for Duke because his pop music was so authentic. He never sold out; on the contrary, he sold homegrown funk to the mainstream. The monstrous basslines of “Dukey Stick,” “Reach for It,” and “Movin’ On” made him an icon for a generation of rap producers. At the same time, he had an almost preternatural talent for slow jams, and “Starting Again,” “Lady,” and “Just for You” would endure over multiple generations. Duke’s crossover success is made more extraordinary by the fact that he never seemed to chase it. While this concise 10-song survey portrays a pop genius, these songs all emerged from an immense backlog of deep jazz and complex fusion work. Duke’s greatest legacy was that he never segregated his interests and instead let them feed each other, which in turn ignited his popularity.

EDITORS’ NOTES

George Duke was the rare musician who was equally respected as a jazz virtuoso, a pop songwriter, and a purveyor of heavyweight funk jams. Though Duke recorded several albums of exploratory fusion jazz, this collection focuses on his crossover success. It works for Duke because his pop music was so authentic. He never sold out; on the contrary, he sold homegrown funk to the mainstream. The monstrous basslines of “Dukey Stick,” “Reach for It,” and “Movin’ On” made him an icon for a generation of rap producers. At the same time, he had an almost preternatural talent for slow jams, and “Starting Again,” “Lady,” and “Just for You” would endure over multiple generations. Duke’s crossover success is made more extraordinary by the fact that he never seemed to chase it. While this concise 10-song survey portrays a pop genius, these songs all emerged from an immense backlog of deep jazz and complex fusion work. Duke’s greatest legacy was that he never segregated his interests and instead let them feed each other, which in turn ignited his popularity.

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