Grammy-winning jazz artist George Duke has worked with jazz musicians from A, as in Cannonball Adderley, to Z, as in Frank Zappa. He's produced hits for artists including Jeffrey Osborne ("Stay With Me Tonight," "On the Wings of Love") and Deniece Williams ("Let's Hear It for the Boy"), and he has a fresh album of his own out, "Déjà Vu."
But Saturday night at UCLA's Royce Hall, he'll be doing something a bit different, blending American jazz with European orchestral traditions. Conducted by Mitch Glickman, the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra will feature Duke along with other special guests Luciana Souza and Raul Midón. Comedian-actor Tommy Davidson hosts.
"This is kind of a unique program," said Duke, who lives in Hollywood with wife Corine. "When the power of jazz meets the power of an orchestra, it's another kind of thing. I think we get to do material that none of us do in our regular concerts. I have an album that I did some years ago that I did at the Montreux Jazz Festival called 'Muir Woods Suite' that tried to combine the two in an entire piece, and it worked pretty well."
On the weekends, he likes to keep the music flowing.
On a Friday night there's a place in Brentwood that I like for special occasions called Peppone. It's a great Italian restaurant, always packed, and it's crazy because every time I go I see someone from the entertainment industry. It's got an old Italian atmosphere, very noisy, with great food and service. I love their veal piccata, and I'm partial to the pasta, so I'll order a three-pasta appetizer — a red pasta, maybe a seafood, and then one with white sauce. And I also really like the chicken with sausage.
After that, because I'm a jazz guy, I'd probably come back across town and go to Catalina Bar & Grill. It's one of the few good jazz clubs still around. They probably won't like this, but I actually preferred it when they were in the smaller place on Cahuenga because it was more intimate, but I still like it. It's well run and you can see well from almost anywhere in the building. It's a good place to play and a good place to listen to music.
On the boulevard
On Saturday morning, I'd have my wife make me an omelet with hot links — woo! That's the best place for breakfast. Then I'd probably go into my home studio and work on a song or two. In the afternoon, I'd take my wife to a place that she really likes, Chez Nous in Toluca Lake, near Burbank. It's a nice place, but I actually like to go on the Strip, because there are a lot of Sunset restaurants like Chin Chin where you can get a table outside and watch the world go by. Great potstickers and a nice big parking lot in back.
For clothes shopping, I'd go to a big-man's shop like Rochester Big & Tall on Wilshire. Casual Male XL is another place I go to because, like Rochester, they not only have clothes that will fit me, but the styles are nice. And depending on what your bent is, there are also a lot of good shops on Melrose west of La Brea.
Thai or Irish?
A nice, casual place where you don't have to wear a suit on a Saturday night is Chan Dara. Good Thai food, it's a real staple in the Hollywood-L.A. area. And Il Piccolino on Robertson, man, that place is happenin'. Eddie Kerkhofs, who used to run another of my favorite spots, Le Dome, now runs this restaurant. The last time I was there I saw Don Rickles. And I love the Irish stew — it's not always on the menu, but I'll call up Eddie ahead of time and they'll make it up for me. It's to die for.