Collingswood, NJ

I loved this old Masonic Temple (yes, a church) the first time I saw it and felt it two years ago. In fact, I put out a special little pleading message of my own that we’d have a quick return. And so here I am with the George Duke Trio. Fifty foot high ceilings and stained glass windows at the very top, with the afternoon sunlight pouring in just gives you a light airy heady feeling that is a perfect preface to an evening of music that has anticipation in the air. This audience is from Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia.

And last time in Philly, at the West Oak Lane Festival, George and I did a similar but different program, this time with more Half Note-ish themes. The Half Note was a club in San Francisco where The George Duke Trio and I played from 1965 to 1968 (a fabulous day and time!) and some of that music is on a brand new CD that we will now sell at concerts and have available online.

In concert performance, the idea is to recapture the approach that we took in that cozy little nightclub/bar with people from down the street and around the corner. It was cool! And so we split the set like before… I’ll sing then the trio will play, then I’ll sing, then the trio will play, et cetera et cetera. On bass is Mike Manson, and on drums is Rayford Griffin, sitting in for Ronald Bruner, Jr. OOWEE, boys and girls! This is not your grandfather’s sedate little jazz combo. This is a power trio that can sound like a big band or Phil Collins or Bootsy Collins with solos that simply shred. And George sings his butt off.

We all walk onstage finger-snapping and singing Moanin’ a cappella—“Yes, Lawd”—and this is new territory for sure.

The program for me is still quite new and tip-toe-ie. This music is from 45 years ago, y’all! But the spirit carries the day, and there are no glaring hiccups. And the audience loved it! All those references, musically and verbally that put them, me, us right there in that moment of history with a serious contemporary edge. You’ll love how George describes his musical journey from Cannonball Adderley and Frank Zappa to Stanley Clarke and Miles.

George and I are throwing hand cues and eyeball cues and shoulder and over-the-shoulder cues all night long. Spontaneity on the run and on display. I don’t wanna spoil the surprise for you, but as you know, George is a co-writer with me on Roof Garden. So it naturally must share some funk with Reach For It. They only quieted down when we walked down the center stage stairs and into the audience, and on out the back of the Temple to an autograph table. What a night.

I said it before to King, the director of the hall: I’d like to play there every day.

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