How does a man who has worked with Jean-Luc Ponty, Frank Zappa, Cannonball Adderly, Stanley Clarke, and Billy Cobham keep his career's momentum going? By creating a Dukey Stick, of course!
As a virtuosic keyboard player, George Duke had recorded and toured with all of the above names by the time this interview was recorded in 1978. Covering jazz, rock, and everything on the spectrum in between, Duke then headed in a more straightforward funk direction with 1977's Reach For It and its 1978 follow-up Don't Let Go. Complete with a plexi-glass, fire-shooting, electric-rainbow-light magic wand, he was seemingly fully immersed in the funk. However, he was already working on more diverse projects and openly admits in this interview o trying to avoid being pigeonholed in any specific genre.
With such rich and varied experiences, Duke has a lot to say about music, which, along with the laid-back nature of this chat, makes for a great interview. An additional highlight is his description of a young new singer in his band, Sheila E.
00:00 - A strange, evolved, mixed audience01:33 - 70 albums / fear of overexposure 02:56 - Reach For It / something more important than album sales03:53 - Time: the only way to put on a good show04:55 - Starting over as an opening act06:07 - Getting one's style cramped; just part of the business07:59 - Becoming more of a visual act / the Dukey Stick09:52 - Laser music / enhancing the music11:52 - Letting go, going with the flow (music, love, life)13:47 - The mistakes of critics15:00 - The fusion argument / multi-stylistic17:02 - Transcending the fusion argument17:36 - The funk argument / touching someone instead of impressing musicians19:20 - Adding simplicity to the music20:13 - Connections to punk and politics 22:14 - "Music is a found treasure"22:47 - 1978: a good year for music / the economy's effect on live shows24:19 - Don't Let Go25:38 - Feeling better about his singing 26:26 - New challenges27:32 - Being oneself while wearing different hats28:53 - Increased sophistication in Brazilian music30:24 - The integration of music into American society31:13 - Current tours31:39 - Where is Shuggie Otis? 32:18 - Producing, working with Raul de Souza33:12 - Sheila E. / youth in the group34:39 - The next direction, with timeline35:44 - The George Duke image / fighting the pigeonholing37:11 - Last words / touring
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