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Al Jarreau: My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke

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It would take this entire review, perhaps this entire page, to list all the musicians that the late pianist, composer and producer George Duke collaborated with and influenced across his five-decade career. Yet surely none is better suited to assemble a tribute album than Al Jarreau, whose kinship with Duke dates to the mid-1960s, when both were newcomers scrambling for gigs in San Francisco. And Jarreau does him proud, covering his lifelong pal’s various musical passions-postbop, fusion, Brazilian jazz, soul-while uniting with a who’s who of special guests, most of whom intersected frequently with Duke, often with historic consequences.

Appropriately, Jarreau opens with a lithe update, featuring Gerald Albright, of “My Old Friend,” a highlight of 1981’s landmark Breakin’ Away, which featured Duke. He teams twice with Dianne Reeves, Duke’s cousin and mentee, diving headlong into the jazz-funk joy of “Someday,” then shimmying through a spicy “Brazilian Love Affair.”

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