George Duke

Face the Music

“My Piano.”


As I sit outside on my friend Vanessa’s summer patio, I’m imagining being one of those people who do the big mega-home tours, not for fantasy wish-fulfillment, but because they’re actually looking for a home.

Obviously, I have no idea what that’s like. If I did, I would be way more famous, because I would have since bought my way further into the spotlight than what is probably healthy, so once again, it looks like God knows what He’s doing.

Nevertheless, when I go to these things with my wife, I periodically imagine what kind of parties I would throw if I had one of these places, because that’s what you do when you own a 5,000 square foot home. I imagine what it might be like to meet my neighbors, and after disabusing them of the notion that I’m in the entourage of a professional athlete, to invite them over to our place, to show them, as Montell Jordan used to say, how we do it.

Which means that, loathe as I am to admit this, I couldn’t bring myself to play any hip-hop. Not that hip-hop isn’t mainstream (thank you, Dre and Jay-Z) but when you’re Black, upper middle class, and looking to make a first impression, you make sure to cross anything off of the list that might give your suburban White neighbors cause to mentally associate with you with plummeting real estate values. Sad, but true.

So having vowed to temporarily leave all the bass-rattling rap anthems off the playlist, I would probably have some light jazz going on in the background, mostly classics… Coltrane, Ellington, Montgomery, etc.

And then at some point, I would gather the guests around to sit down at my piano, where I would play.

And since this whole thing is an exercise in fantasy anyway, I would play this song, by George Duke, “My Piano.”

I would sit, looking handsome and stately, and play the song’s intro with as much style and je ne sais quoi as possible, and then right at the 40-sec mark, the guitar would come in with an island lilt, and then a big kabuki curtain would drop, revealing the rest of the rhythm section behind me (it’s a large house, people wouldn’t even notice).

And as the band and I play, people would slowly rise, and the dance instructors that I planted ahead of time as guests would start dancing and encouraging others to do the same, and the place would slowly morph from being a classy affair to being a real live party, with people, y’know, enjoying themselves and the people around them.

Somewhere, in the recesses of my mind, that exact scenario (or a variation thereof) plays out, every time I listen to “My Piano,” by George Duke. And that’s why it’s today’s Jam of the Moment.



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