By 1979, when George Duke released A Brazilian Love Affair, he was one of the hardest working men in music. Not only had he released fifteen solo albums, but had moved into production. Then there was George’s work as a sideman. The list of musicians George has played with reads like a who’s who of music. What’s even more remarkable is their diversity. Their music crosses the musical genres. This includes everyone from Frank Zappa, through Jean Luc-Ponty, Cannonball Adderley, Billy Cobham to Anita Baker,  George Clinton and Flora Purim. Having worked with such a diverse selection of musicians, this must have influenced George’s music. Certainly working with Flora Purim, the Brazilian-born singer must have influence George, when he headed into the studio to record what would become one of his most commercially successful and critically acclaimed albums, A Brazilian Love Affair which was recently rereleased on vinyl by Music On Vinyl. 

When George Duke came to record A Brazilian Love Affair, Brazilian music had  become much more popular, and moved into the mainstream. Artists like Flora Purim, who George had worked with, plus Gilberto Gil, Ivan Lins and of course Sergio Mendes had been trailblazers. These artists had influenced European and American artists, including George Duke. On A Brazilian Love Affair, George showcased the talents of Flora Purim, Airto, Raul De Souza, Simone and Milton Mascimento. This resulted in one of George’s most successful albums.

For A Brazilian Love Affair, George wrote eight of the ten tracks. Of the other two tracks, the Brazilian influence shawn through, Ronaldo Bastos and Milton Mascimento wrote Cravo E Canela. Milton Mascimento also cowrote Ao Que Vai Nascer with Fernando Brant. These ten tracks saw George Duke fuse Brazilian music with jazz, funk and soul. Helping him to do this, was a band that included a tight and talented back of top musicians.

Recording of A Brazilian Love Affair took place in Rio De Janeiro and Los Angeles. Part of the album was recorded at Level e Hawai Recording Studio, Rio De Janeiro, and Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles. Additional sessions took place at Le Gonks West Studio in Los Angeles. Accompanying George Duke were musicians from America and Brazil. This included a rhythm section that variously included bassists Byron Miller and Jamii Joanes, drummers Ricky Lawson and Roberta Silva and guitarists Roland Bautista and Toninho Horto. Jerry Hey and Raul De Souza played trombone, Larry Williams’ saxophone and percussionists Airto and Chico Batera. George a true multi-instrumentalist played guitar, keyboards, synths, piano and sang vocals.  With a combination of Brazilian and American musicians collaborating on A Brazilian Love Affair, the completed album was a meeting of cultures and musical genres. Would this prove successful?

A Brazilian Love Affair was released in 1979 to critical acclaim. Critics decided that this fusion of cultures and musical genres was one of George Duke’s finest albums. It was also one of George’s most successful albums, reaching number 119 in the US Billboard 200, number forty in the US R&B Charts and number four in the US Jazz Charts. The only disappointment was when the single Brazilian Love Affair failed to chart. Apart from that, A Brazilian Love Affair fusion of Brasilia, jazz, funk and soul proved popular. I’ll now tell you why.

Opening A Brazilian Love Affair is the only single released from the album, Brazilian Love Affair. Percussion, synths, keyboards and the funkiest of bass lines from Byron Miller combine before George’s light, joyous vocal soars above the arrangement. It’s like a slice of sunshine, unfolding in waves. Dramatic pauses give way to waves of uplifting music. Roland Bautista’s chiming guitar helps drive the arrangement along, while Byron’s bass provides the funk. A healthy sprinkling of percussion is added, before a flourish of electric piano sees the track head in the direction of freeform jazz. From there, jazz, funk and Brazilian music are combined by George and his multitalented band over seven scintillating minutes of dramatic and bold music.

Summer Breezin’ has a real authentic Brazilian sound from its opening bars. It has a lovely understated sound. Just acoustic guitars, percussion, bells and piano combine, before a burst of drums signals the entrance of George’s scatted vocal. Rasping horns join a funky rhythm section as drums punctuate the arrangement confidently. From there George’s band fuse jazz, funk and Brasilia. Later, the arrangement grows in power and drama. George scats while adding the unmistakable sound of the Rhodes. Horns and harmonies accompany him, as the arrangement meanders along. It combines beauty, drama and subtlety in equal measures.

Cravo E Canela sees George accompanied by a cast of Brazilian musicians. They’re key to the track’s joyful, sunshine sound that unravels at breakneck speed. You’re swept along in its wake, almost unable to keep still. Like so much Latin music, it has a feel-good sound, albeit with a twist from George. Massed vocals are joined a myriad of percussion, congas, agogos and caixas. They’re joined by the rhythm section, guitar, synths and keyboards as Latin and jazz music unite. By now the track has taken on a bold, dramatic sound, one that’s almost impossible to resist. Indeed, resistance is impossible, best to succumb to the song’s charms and delight.

Alone 6AM is just a one-minute interlude where George plays electric piano and Roland Bautista guitar. They create that veers between wistful and melancholy to a much bolder, jazzy sound. Too soon, it’s over, leaving but a memory.

Brazilian Sugar features Flora Purim’s vocal on a track where to cultures unite. Here, Brazil and America seamlessly unite through music, Flora’s joyous scatted vocal is accompanied by a jaunty arrangement where the rhythm section join vibes, percussion and keyboards. When Flora’s vocal drops out, a blazing trombone solo from Raul De Souza takes centre-stage. It’s a show-stopper, and one of the best solos on A Brazilian Love Affair. Not to be outdone, guitar and keyboards join the mix. They’re equally impressive. Then when Flora’s vocal returns, she seemingly spurs the band on to even greater heights. Her vocal is impassioned, soulful and even sultry. It proves to be just the finishing touch to George Duke and his band in full flight, on what’s one of the album’s highlights.

Chiming, jazzy guitars join a driving rhythm section and blazing horns as Sugar Loaf Mountain unfolds. It’s a sumptuous slice of driving jazz-funk. Horns growl and rasp while the rhythm section and keyboards create dramatic waves of music. George unleashes an unrivaled piano solo, playing quickly, accurately and with passion. So do the rest of the band. They take their lead from George. Bassist Byron Miller slaps his bass, producing some funky licks, while horns rasp and the rhythm section fuse jazz with funk. By now you realize this is a crack band of musicians at the height of their game. It doesn’t get much better than this, as bold, dramatic waves of music unfold. So good is this track, that you wonder whether it’s possible to better it?

Just chimes and bells open Love Reborn, one of the slowest and most beautiful tracks on A Brazilian Love Affair. From there, just keyboards accompany one of Roland Bautista’s best guitar solos. His playing is slow, spacious and very beautiful. Deservedly, he takes centre-stage. The rest of the band seem to defer to him. Keyboards, rhythm section and heartfelt harmonies accompany Roland, but it’s his searing, riffing guitar that makes this one of the best tracks on A Brazilian Love Affair.

Up from the Sea it Arose and Ate Rio in One Swift Bite opens with a frantic, frenzied combination of percussion, bongos, congas and punchy, lilting harmonies. There’s a real authentic Brazilian sound. It’s like carnival time. Soon, keyboards and the rhythm section join the fun. Byron Miller’s bass helps drive the track along, as the track heads in a jazzy direction. George’s piano give the arrangement a sense of urgency. Later, rocky guitars add another dimension to the track. With keyboards for company, they drive the track along to its dramatic crescendo, where jazz, funk, rock and Brazilian music merge.

After the drama of the previous track, I Need You Now gives the listener a  welcome respite. It has a much more understated and elegant sound. Just guitars and a subtle rhythm section combine with the heartfelt vocal. Harmonies accompany it as the arrangement meanders along, gradually revealing its secrets, subtleties and not inconsiderable beauty.

Closing A Brazilian Love Affair is Ao Que Vai Nascer. Just an acoustic guitar accompanies Milton Mascimento’s melancholy vocal. His vocal is full of feeling and emotion, as it takes centre-stage. Distant harmonies accompany him, before the arrangement builds. Guitars, rhythm section, keyboards and synths create a backdrop that’s melodramatic and sometimes broody. It’s also effective, bringing out the emotion and passion in Milton’s vocal. Later, the band kick loose. Castanets join the piano, synths and rhythm section and with a dramatic flourish and sense of urgency, the track comes to an impassioned and emotive conclusion.

Although George Duke was something of a musical veteran by the time he released A Brazilian Love Affair, it became one of his most successful and critically acclaimed albums. It’s no wonder. Quite simply, A Brazilian Love Affair is a delicious fusion of jazz, funk, soul and Brazilian music. Two countries’ music unites seamlessly. George and his band of American and Brazilian musicians fuse genres, which sometimes, melts into one. Over ten tracks, drama, emotion and beauty are combined. Much of this music has an irresistibly catchy, joyous sound. Sometimes, it’s almost impossible to keep still, given the combination of irresistible rhythms and percussive delights. However, this isn’t an album of straight ahead Brazilian music. Instead, it’s Brazilian music with a twist. Funk, jazz, soul and even rocky guitars are added to the equation. The result is one of George Duke’s classic albums, where George and his band showcase their not inconsiderable skills. While A Brazilian Love Affair found commercial success and critical acclaim, it also found favor with a new generation of producers and musicians. 

Sample hungry producers and musicians have looked to A Brazilian Love Affair for inspiration. Louie Vega, Jump Cutz and DJ Jorj have all sampled tracks from the album. Indirectly, this has introduced a new generations to George Duke’s music. So too will Music On Vinyl’s recent vinyl rerelease of A Brazilian Love Affair. This will allow another generation of music lovers discover its delights and enjoy A Brazilian Love Affair of their own. Standout Tracks: Brazilian Affair, Summer Breezin,’ Love Reborn and I Need You Now.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: