George Duke – Faces In Reflection

August 19, 2011


I saw this Faces In Reflection LP by George Duke in a 2nd hand store when I was in London last month, but to my suprise it was totally trashed so I passed. Last week I decided to lashed out and picked up a NM copy from a local online dealer. Faces in Reflection was recorded in 1974 and was released on one of the greatest German jazz labels, MPS Records. Rather than bigging the album up, you may aswell get an insight from the keyboard maestro himself…

I actually like this record. This was the first LP that really said what I wanted to say. The idea was to play intense music and use the voice as a tool for orchestration. I had been forced to sing with Frank Zappa, so my confidence was stronger. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t then, nor do I now consider myself a singer. I always used singing as a means of communicating with my audience. Words obviously have a different affect than instrumental music. I felt the voice could be used to bridge the gap in a fusion of jazz, funk, latin, and pop music sources.

The band was John Heard bass, and my new buddy, Leon Ndugu Chancelor on drums. Ndugu and I would go on to have a long musical relationship.

Actually the album was to be called Faces. But a Rock group had come out with an album called Faces and BG didn’t want any confusion between the records.

I began experimenting with odd time signatures and various synthesizer textures. This was my first solo record using a synthesizer. Frank Zappa is responsible for my introduction to synthesizers. He told me one day, that I should play synthesizers. It was as simple as that! He bought an ARP 2600 and put it next to my Rhodes. It had all these knobs and looked totally intimidating. I took it home a few times with the manual, but got nowhere. I thought I was back in College studying some abstract foreign language. I finally settled on something simpler. It was an ARP Odyssey. I decided to use an ARP, purely to be different from Jan Hammer, who was playing the Mini Moog, and had a head start on me in the mastery of synthesis. Also, Ian Underwood was real good on the 2600, and I knew I’d sound like a total novice compared to him. But I must admit, I was really drawn to the possibilities inherent therein. There were some things that were a drag also! Remember, at this time there were no presets or ways of saving patches. Not only that, but you were limited to one note at a time. So overdubbing, a good memory and management system became very important. The year was 1974.

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