Interviews

MUSICAL CHAMELEON - GEORGE DUKE SPEAKS!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010 20:29 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

F_George_Duke_Photo_By_Bobby_Holland_8x10Californian keyboard maven, GEORGE DUKE, has successfully straddled the divide between the worlds of jazz and pop for almost 40 years now. Born in San Rafael, 64 years ago, Duke began his career in the late-'60s as a dedicated jazz piano player before making an unexpected left turn into the world of jazz-rock and joining Frank Zappa's groundbreaking Mothers group in 1970. After an eye-opening stint with Zappa – "Frank tore the musical elitism out of me" says Duke, who also started playing synthesisers during that time – the keyboard player joined his hero alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley's band for a couple of years. He also found time to cut some solo albums for the German MPS label before rejoining Zappa for a couple of years.

In the mid-'70s Duke joined forces with powerhouse drummer Billy Cobham for the Billy Cobham-George Duke Band and in 1977 signed to Epic where he recorded a slew of successful jazz fusion albums (including 'Reach For It'). After a long spell at Epic, in the '90s he joined Warner Bros (five of his Warner albums have just been reissued in Rhino's 'Original Album Series'). In addition to his own recordings, Duke collaborated with bassist Stanley Clarke on three albums (under the name The Clarke-Duke Project) and established himself as a major (and also Grammy winning) jazz and R&B producer, helming tracks for artists like Dianne Reeves, Deneice Williams, Anita Baker, Regina Belle, 101 North, Jeffrey Osbourne and many others.

More recently, George Duke signed to Heads Up, releasing 'Dukey Treats' in 2008. His second album on the Heads Up label is the about-to-be-released 'Déjà Vu,' due in the shops on August 30th. SJF's Charles Waring recently caught up with this versatile and highly respected musician who talked about his new project as well as reminiscing about some of the major highlights of his long and fruitful career.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 August 2010 20:38

 

FUSION TALKS ....

Thursday, 12 August 2010 18:22 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

lorberGenial piano man JEFF LORBER has enjoyed a long and distinguished musical career. The Philadelphian's time in the jazz biz began in 1977 with his band THE JEFF LORBER FUSION whose music – as the name implies – was that heady mix of jazz, rock, R&B, funk and electric sounds that people soon dubbed "fusion". In 1981 LORBER disbanded FUSION to concentrate on a solo career and since then he's been acknowledged as major player on the smooth/lite jazz circuit. Now with a brand new album, Grammy-nominated LORBER has resurrected the FUSION concept. With a core of players – JIMMY HASLIP, ERIC MARIENTHAL, PAUL JACKSON JR., VINNIE COLAIUTA and RANDY BRECKER – forming a new band, LORBER has recorded a batch of songs from the heady days of FUSION. The 11 tracker's called 'Now Is The Time' and jazzers who only know his solo work will be more than surprised with the results from this star-studded ensemble. When LORBER was recently in the UK we had the opportunity to ask him if the new band will have any degree of permanence..... or maybe the recording is just a one off....

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 August 2010 18:37

 

ON THE LEVEL – LEVEL 42’S MARK KING SPEAKS!

Wednesday, 04 August 2010 08:53 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

Mark_KingAre Level 42 a jazz-funk band with a pop sensibility or a pop group with a funk-infused inner core? A good question, perhaps, but it's a hard one to answer and though they've never been easy to pigeonhole, one thing's for sure; back in the day, the quartet from the Isle of Wight knew how to make records that would appeal to the wider public without sacrificing their musical integrity. Though they were part of the nascent Brit Funk movement in the early '80s, they quickly demonstrated that their musical vocabulary extended beyond the somewhat constricting parameters of jazz-funk.

Between 1980 and 1994, Level 42 were virtually omnipresent in the UK singles chart. They notched up a very impressive 29 chart entries in a fertile fourteen-year spell that yielded the Top 10 hits 'The Sun Goes Down (Livin' It Up),' 'Something About You,' 'Lessons In Love' (which was the nearest they got to a UK chart topper, peaking at #3 in 1986), 'Running In The Family,' 'To Be With You Again,' and 'It's Over.' All those key tracks can be found on an excellent new 4-CD box set retrospective on Universal called 'Living It Up.' Not only does it include all the band's singles – beginning with a funky instrumental called 'Sandstorm' that lit up clubs back in 1980 – but also includes a raft of previously unheard studio rarities (including demos) and a brand new acoustic album where surviving original members bassist/vocalist Mark King and keyboard player Mike Lindup, reconfigure some of the band's classic songs in an unplugged setting.

The release of 'Living It Up' coincides with Level 42's thirtieth anniversary as well as a global tour, which started in May and ends in November (the band play a couple of UK dates in August as a warm up for a lengthy tour of the British Isles later in October). Renowned for his astonishing skill on the bass guitar and currently gigging in the USA with the band, Mark King found time to talk to SJF's Charles Waring about the group and its music.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 August 2010 09:18

 

TRANSATLANTIC CHAT... WITH BLUEY

Monday, 19 July 2010 18:00 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

blueyAny new release from INCOGNITO is a soul landmark, but the band's new long player is something a little bit more special. The new set 'TRANSATLANTIC RPM' marks INCOGNITO'S thirtieth anniversary. SJF couldn't let that go unnoticed so we caught up with INCOGNITO main man BLUEY MAUNICK to find out more about the album. First, though, we wanted to know how, after 30 years, JEAN-PAUL motivated himself to make new music.....

Simple...I am inspired by all things around me. Good days, bad days, sunny days and rainy days, making up and breaking up... my record collection, what I read and what I taste and the journeys I make with the band. I make music to accompany all the above and all the above never fail to inspire! 

Why have you called the new album 'Transatlantic RPM'?

This is an album recorded in Europe and the USA. I have been deeply influenced by music from across the pond and this album sees me coming full circle, from listening to my record collection and to working with these inspirational artists on the album – like CHAKA KHAN, AL MCKAY and LEON WARE. I also relate to coming full circle and the revolutions per minute of all the old vinyls that constantly inspire me. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 July 2010 15:40

 

SYL JOHNSON AND THE REBIRTH OF SOUL

Thursday, 15 July 2010 17:40 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

IMG_1366Mississippi's SYL JOHNSON (born SYLVESTER THOMPSON in 1938) doesn't mind anyone calling him a soul veteran. His music career began in the mid-fifties when he cut his teeth playing in the bands of people like MAGIC SAM, JUNIOR WELLS and JIMMY REED. He made his solo recording debut in 1959 on the Federal label, then in the mid sixties SYL began recording for Twinight Records of Chicago before WILLIE MITCHELL eventually took him to Hi. After the Hi years ended, JOHNSON produced two LPs for his own Shama label then sometimes in the 80s, he started a fast-food fish restaurant business but soul music was never far away and he continued to play and record... his last official release being collaboration with his brother, JIMMY, in2002. Now the man's back! Not only is there to be a box set retrospective of his work, but SYL is also working with Australian soul diva MELLOW-D on a project that he hopes will spark a renaissance of real soul music. www.soulandjazzandfunk.com  needed to know more. We caught up with SYL and began by asking him what exactly he'd been doing since that 2002 album....

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 July 2010 19:04

 

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