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Catalina’s Bar & Grill Los Angeles, CA January 17, 2001
COOL, George Duke's foray on Warner Brothers Jazz that has led him back onto the jazz scene, seems to be paying off with jazz audiences in Los Angeles. His 6 night gig at Catalina's Bar & Grill in Los Angeles, CA on January 17-21, 2001 was met with roaring appreciation and has generated a river of commentary by the critics on the Los Angeles jazz scene. This night, George Duke delivered a more subtle message than the ones he raises the roof with at his rousing "funk" oriented shows. What usually packs stadiums and huge venues, was scaled back and the quintet played a very, cool set to a small jazz crowd that was filled with multiple meanings...just like jazz! His quintet featuring Ndugu Chancler on drums was successful in establishing their jazz 'identity' and their jazz dialogues centered on an array of styles from funk jazz to Brazilian jazz. The highlight of the set was a thunderous "If You Will," from his recent CD COOL that features Flora Purim on vocals. Despite her absent vocals, the song connected with the audience with its great Latin beats. The drum solos from jazz drummer, Ndugu Chanceler would have leveled an entire city block as his powerful chops reaped a healthy response from the audience. George Duke brought a very different perspective to his piano chops, and diverse as they are, showed that jazz is a very high priority for him. My only regret is that they didn't let us in on the titles of the songs, many of the improvisations were tremendous, but the melodies from his new CD, aren't that familiar to jazz audiences...yet! So if you're ready for some very cool jazz intersections, funk, Brazilian, straight-ahead, and smooth, then this is the show for you!
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.