In memory of George Duke (January 12, 1946 – August 5, 2013)
This is George Duke at his Absolute Best!!! But you gotta take the trip with him from “The beginning“, through “Lemme at it” and “Hot Fire“. By the time you get to “Reach For It“, you’re ready to get the party started.
After a short intro the record kicks in with “Lemme At It” which is a funk/R&B style with some jazz added in. Dynamite lead guitar playing and then George Duke takes the second solo with keyboards and synth. Most of this disc is sophisticated funk with an incredible group of musicians. “Reach For It” and “Watch Out Baby” are very much like FUNKADELIC/PARLIAMENT records from that time. The track “Omi (Fresh Water)” and “Hot Fire” feature plenty of percussion and more hot guitar playing. The closing track, “Diamonds” continues in a latin-percussion style similar to Santana. A real treat for musicians or for people who enjoy funk/R&B. George Duke gets lowdown and funky with his synth.
A1 The Beginning 1:50
A2 Lemme at It 4:16
A3 Hot Fire 5:31
A4 Reach for It 4:53
A5 Just for You 4:27
B1 Omi (Fresh Water) 4:50
B2 Searchin’ My Mind 3:41
B3 Watch Out Baby! 5:23
B4 Diamonds 6:45
B5 The End 1:06
Keyboardist Duke, after stints with Billy Cobham, Cannonball Adderly, Jean-Luc Ponty, Frank Zappa (to stunning effect), and Don Ellis’s big band, graduated with this varied 1977 program to jazz-fusion star status. The recording features popish jazz grooves with plenty of spikes inlaid, including rock-solid and heavy fusion, ’70s funk, love-lorn ballads, and sections of bristling ensemble playing. One can hear what it was that Zappa liked in the eclecticist Duke: raw-nerved electronic keyboards with shifting rhythms and a sense of the funk, fun, and burlesque that Zappa relished. Especially deserving of mention among Duke’s band members are searing guitarist Charles Icarus Johnson, thudding bassist Byron Miller, and drummer Leon Ndugu Chancler–propulsive, rapid-fire, time- and shape-shifting. But they all got the funk. –Peter Monaghan
The classic title song with it’s loose, live-in-the-studio raps and Stanley Clarke‘s THUMPASAURUS bass on the ultra-funky vamp “Watch Out, Baby” are worth the price of admission alone. But we’ve also got the Afro-Cuban influenced “Hot Fire“, the heavy latin-funk sounds of “Omi (Fresh Water)” and the pure bombastic fusion of “Lemme At It”. Despite it’s availability “Reach for It” is still pretty much early, fiery George Duke-before mushy ballads took over, even on pure pop-R&B crooning like “Just For You” and the funky pop of “Searchin’ My Mind“.
Although this is excellent through and through I still suggest Duke’s BASF/MPS recordings in the mid 70′s (such as “Liberated Fantasies”) as good reference points-all those albums are only available on vinyl but worth
Look for those but buy this too-it’s fantastic! (Andre’ S Grindle)
Thanks to its multitudinously funky title track, scalding Latin jams and a ballad “Just for You,”Reach for It went to #25 Pop and #4 R&B but never made the Billboard Jazz album chart. “This was my biggest selling solo record,” Duke writes. “When it went Gold, I nearly had a heart attack!”
“We toured all of ’77 and part of ’78 and were considered the new young hot R&B/Funk/Jazz group,” his notes continue. “We toured with all the major R&B acts of the time, but were musically doing something quite different with a distinct progressive jazz flavor”.