George Duke: Feel

An early Duke fusion set features John Heard, Flora Purim, Airto Moreira and, incognito, his then employer Frank Zappa

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The fourth of seven albums recorded by George Duke for German label MPS Records, Feel is an expressive recording, full of jazz and funk experimentation.

There are several notable personnel on Feel, including John Heard, who plays on all but one of the tracks, as well as on many of Duke’s early releases; drummer Leon “Ndugu” Chancler, another frequent contributor to Duke’s albums, also appears, but only on one track. Duke had just rejoined The Mothers Of Invention after a brief period with Cannonball Adderley, and so perhaps unsurprisingly, Frank Zappa makes an appearance, playing guitar on two tracks under the pseudonym Obdewl’l X. Flora Purim, legendary Return To Forever member who also sang on dozens of jazz albums with other artists, sings on two tracks, and her husband, percussionist Airto Moreira, features throughout.

You can hear the styles that Duke combined so well in his masterly improvisations as well as his craft in the meticulously detailed and technically complex compositions. The second track, Love, is a particularly structured piece, with gentle vocals from Duke and Purim, and psychedelic soloing from Zappa, his guitar echoing and feeding back over the soft two-chord progression before Duke’s own solo. The title track is rich and atmospheric, with soaring synths and eerie double-tracked vocals, also based around a simple, repeating chord progression.

Old Slippers is more of a jam, as Duke weaves together variations on melodic fragments over the grooving rhythm, before a synth-heavy breakdown toward the end and a final appearance from Zappa. From the Latin-jazz influence on Yana Aminah to the synth soundscape of Theme From The Opera “Tzina”, and the heavy funk style throughout, Feel is an exciting a varied album and a great example of Duke’s vast musical ability.

Discography
Funny Funk; Love; The Once Over; Feel; Cora Jobege; Old Slippers; Theme From The Opera “Tzina”; Yana Aminah; Rashid; Statement (41.31)
Duke (kyb, syn, v); Obdewl’l X (elg); Flora Purim (v); John Heard (b, elb); Leon “Ndugu” Chancler (d, pc); Airto Moreira (pc). California, May 1974.
MPS Records