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George Duke - Reach For It CD (album) cover

REACH FOR IT

George Duke

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.00 | 5 ratings

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js (Easy Money)
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars In 1977 the initial burst of creative energy that had fueled the world of jazz fusion was starting to wane and fusion pioneers were being eclipsed by new musical stars who were rising from the flashy world of funk, a musical style that was enjoying a creative and popular peak, making it more and more appealing to certain fading fusion stars. I was suspicious of this album, 'Reach for It', when it first came out, as much as I was enjoying EW&F and Parliament during their heyday, I felt for George Duke to head in that popular direction was pure money driven sell-out.

I'm glad I re-visited this record and gave it a second chance. It still comes across as an attempt at commercial success, as the 'reach for it' in the title suggests, Georgie wanted a piece of the pie that had been going to George Clinton and Maurice White, but on the plus side Duke backs his claim for commercial recognition with a very well-made highly polished album that is thoroughly creative from start to finish. What we get here is smorgasbord of styles that late 70s fusion had fractured into as well as some derivative funk as Duke tries out being EW&F on one song and then Bootsy meets Zappa on another. The fusion numbers include one Afro-Cuban scorcher, two Brazilian numbers and one prog-rock flavored cut with great guitar work from Icarus Johnson.

The big hit that George wanted from this album came from the title cut which used to play on late 70s RnB radio in the states along side other classics of the time like Flashlight and Brick House, ..those were the days. As much as it used to bother me that Duke had resorted to turning out hits, re-visiting this song reveals a fairly original and bizarre construction for a radio hit. Basically what we have here is a hard RnB piano riff that repeats insistently while bassist Byron Miller turns in a powerhouse bass solo with a huge flanged sound while the beautiful women on the album cover offer unobtrusive chanting invites to 'dance'. In retrospect I'm kind of surprised it got as much play as it did, its not your standard pop tune.

Overall this is a superbly crafted album that mixes pop and fusion elements into songs that George Duke meant to put into as many home stereos as possible. One interesting plus is that the album opens and closes with excellent ambient space-rock interludes on analog synthesizer.

js (Easy Money) | 3/5 |

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