on 15 November 2008
I'm not certain that that many people are familiar with this early MPS release, because it hasn't been that widely available, as many of his later releases have. Recorded while he still was working with Frank Zappa, this recording also is far-off the more commercial attemps, he later on would release.
The sound on this trio recording is very nice and the playing is fresh and spontanious. The opening song comes across almost as a free jam, and all in all many of the tracks sounds improvised.
He is joined by Ndugu Chandler on drums and John Heard on bass, and the only thing one properly could miss from this recording, is some more solid material/compositions. But when that is said, I must add that everything comes out very musically and there is certainly a lot of great playing from the hands of Mr. Duke, both on Rhodes, acoustic piano and not the least on synthesizers as well.
As a fan of Seventies Jazz-Funk and Jazz-Fusion - I must admit to lack of knowledge on this one - and it's a gem I've been missing out on.
This July 2008 CD remaster on Verve Originals B0011514-02 (Barcode 600753095591) is a straightforward reissue of "Faces In Reflection" - a rare Jazz-Fusion album by George Duke originally released in 1974 in Europe and the USA on MPS Records/BASF (it had no British release). It's also part of Universal's "Originals" CD series. All of these discs are remastered, housed in card digipaks with original artwork reproduced on the outer and inner flap (usually no booklet) and are pitched at mid-price. The series is extensive - over 120 titles covering Jazz, Funk, Soul, Latin, Big Bands and Fusion albums across the multinational's vast array of labels. But the big news for fans here is the superlative new sound...
KEVIN REEVES handled the mastering and it's a fabulous job done - the sound quality is `so' good. Being Fusion and filled with keyboard flourishes and jazzy drum patterns - the remastering needed to enhance the playing - and it has. "Piano Solo No. 1+2" for instance has slight hiss - but it's not dampened out nor compressed - it's allowed to breath - and lovely for it. You really hear the musicianship. JOHN HEARD is the Bass player and NDUGU the Drummer - all other instruments are by GEORGE DUKE.
1. The Opening
3. Piano Solo No. 1+2
4. Psychosomatic Dung
5. Faces In Reflection No.1 (Instrumental)
6. Maria Tres Filhos
7. North Beach
8. Da Somba
9. Faces In Reflection No.2 (Vocal)
Reeves has an impressive track record - he's remastered the beautiful "What Color Is Love" album by Terry Callier (also in the "Originals" series), the Hip-O Select reissue of Barry White's "I've Got So Much To Give" from 1974, Volume 2 of the Smokey Robinson series, the "United Artists Collection" double for Gordon Lightfoot and two fantastic Crusaders albums "Pass The Plate" (1971) and "Images" (1978) - I've reviewed the lot and his work is exceptional on all of them.
Musically "Faces In Reflection" is a little Todd Rundgren's Utopia (the 1974 debut), a little Frank Zappa, some Mahavishnu Orchestra and a whole lot of keyboard fusion. It's fast and some would say excessively so in places, but it's better than that. "North Beach" sounds very Brian Auger with its echoed-keyboards and funky feel. The beautifully mellow "Capricorn" has brought customers to our counter enquiring after it on more than one occasion - while the slightly Latin feel of Milton Nacscimento's "Maria Tres Filhos" is an album highlight for me.
Most of the cuts are instrumentals and thankfully there are no self-indulgent 18-minute workouts on here (the longest track is 6:25) and better for it. "Faces In Reflection No.1" is very musical and sounds like something out of a movie soundtrack. One or two tracks have vocal rapping alongside the soloing, but only one has words - the album finisher "Faces In Reflection No.2" (lyrics above).
A bit of an unknown then - that deserves better frankly - and I urge to check it out. Recommended...
PS: I've done a list of 'some' of the Universal "Originals" titles on CD - see the comment section attached to this review
on 17 March 2015
Up there with my fave George Duke albums I think. This is a bit looser & jazzier than his later MPS releases, fewer overdubs & synths & in my opinion all the better for it. I always thought George was one of the very best electric piano players of his generation & when he wasn't going overboard, a fantastically inventive synth player. The rhythm section here of Ndugu & Heard are tremendous & Heards strong tone on the double bass doesn't sound at all out of place when matched against Dukes electronics. If you like all the Dukey Stick faux P-funk nonsense that came later then maybe this isn't for you but if you enjoy proper jazz crossover when it was still vibrant & fresh then this is well worth a pop. RIP George you seemed a lovely guy.