Al Jarreau – My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 45:20 minutes | 990 MB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Digital booklet | Source: HDTracks | © Concord Records

The world of music was forever changed in 2013 with the passing of legendary keyboardist, composer and producer George Duke. This year, Al Jarreau, famed vocalist and long-time friend of Duke, re-interprets some of Duke’s renowned catalog of post-bop, jazz-fusion, R&B and Brazilian jazz with My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke. This work also hosts a stellar blend of guest artists including Gerald Albright, Dianne Reeves, Marcus Miller, Lalah Hathaway, Jeffrey Osborne, Kelly Price, Dr. John, and more, with a special appearance by George Duke on the track “Bring Me Joy” which also features Boney James.

My Old Friend will surely extend the legacy of George Duke as well as become another crowning jewel in Jarreau’s own distinguished repertoire. “There are great moments all over this project,” Jarreau says proudly. “I couldn’t possibly cover George’s full range. But I wanted to give people a fun listen with his music for Duke’s diehard fans to once again, enjoy themselves through his music.”

Jarreau first met Duke in 1965 when he moved to San Francisco from his hometown of Milwaukee after a stint with the U.S. Army Reserves. Jarreau was working as a social worker and a rehabilitation counselor while also pounding the San Francisco streets for jazz gigs. A young Duke was already making a name for himself in the city by playing weekends at the Half Note. One Sunday night jam session, Jarreau came upon stage and tore it up. The club owner immediately asked Jarreau if he would be willing to join George Duke’s trio on a regular basis. Jarreau leaped at the opportunity and worked with the George Duke Trio for three years, evening recording a live LP. “We played together three years at that club; it closed in 1968 and George and I moved on. But that was a very important period for me,” Jarreau recalls.

Al Jarreau got his start playing in a jazz trio led by pianist/keyboardist George Duke, so it is fitting that Jarreau pays tribute to Duke, who passed away in 2013, on his 2014 album My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke. It was while working as a vocal rehab counselor at a hospital in San Francisco in the late ’60s that Jarreau began singing with Duke’s trio. It was also due in part to the popularity of these early performances that both musicians’ storied solo careers were launched. On My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke, Jarreau delves into a batch of Duke compositions with a select group of guest artists, many of whom also had connections to Duke. Joining Jarreau here are such luminaries as Gerald Albright, Lalah Hathaway, Jeffrey Osborne, Dianne Reeves, and others. Similarly, backing Jarreau at various times is a superb ensemble of musicians including bassist Stanley Clarke (who also produced the album), keyboardists John Beasley and Patrice Rushen, guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr., and drummer John “J.R.” Robinson. In fact, Duke himself makes an appearance here via the wonders of modern technology on the languidly romantic “Bring Me Joy.” Elsewhere, Jarreau turns his sonorous, joyful voice to such Duke songs as “Sweet Baby,” “No Rhyme, No Reason,” “You Touch My Brain,” and more. Ultimately, My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke is a heartfelt tribute album that, as with many of Jarreau and Duke’s previous albums, feels fresh, warm, and full of love.

01 – My Old Friend (feat. Gerald Albright)
02 – Someday (feat. Dianne Reeves)
03 – Churchyheart (Backyard Ritual) (feat. Marcus Miller)
04 – SomeBossa (Summer Breezin’) (feat. Gerald Albright)
05 – Sweet Baby (feat. Lalah Hathaway)
06 – Every Reason To Smile / Wings Of Love (feat. Jeffrey Osborne)
07 – No Rhyme, No Reason (feat. Kelly Price)
08 – Bring Me Joy (feat. George Duke & Boney James)
09 – Brazilian Love Affair / Up From The Sea It Arose and Ate Rio In One Swift Bite (feat. Dianne Reeves)
10 – You Touch My Brain (feat. Dr. John)

Producers: Boney James, John Burk, Stanley Clarke, Patrick Lundquist and Marcus Miller.
Vocal engineer: Misha Kachakachishvili.
Recording engineers: Boney James, Don Murray, Seth Presant and David Rideau.
Mixing engineer: Seth Presant and David Rideau.
Mastering engineer: Paul Blakemore.

Al Jarreau – vocals
Gerald Albright – saxophone
Patrice Rushen, Greg Phillinganes- keyboards, piano
Stanley Clarke – bass, backing vocals
Rob Bacon, Paul Jackson, Jr., Jubu – guitar
Marcus Miller – bass, bass clarinet, programming
George Duke, John Beasley – keyboards
Brandon Coleman – key bass, keyboards
Boney James – tenor saxophone, programming
Mike Cottone – trumpet
Alex Al – bass
Lenny Castro – percussion
Dr. John – vocals, piano
Lalah Hathaway, Kelly Price, Dianne Reeves – vocals
Jeffrey Osborne – vocals, backing vocals
John “JR” Robinson, Omari Williams – drums
Porcha Clay, Patrick Lundquist, Fred Martin, Katriz Trinidad – backing vocals