In 1971 George Duke, having just recently done his time with the Mothers of Invention, was engaged by the Cannonball Adderley Quintet. Beginning in April of that year, Duke made two recordings over a short timespan that on their release in 1973 as a double LP (against the desire of the artists, by the way), would be a major statement. On Chapter One of his fusion autobiography, “Solus,” Duke, along with the skeleton crew of bassist John Heard and drummer Dick Berk, tries out the new compositional philosophy he had absorbed from his work with Adderley.
The album was obliged to maintain a jazzy environment, illustrated by the harmonically flowing piano improvisation on “Love Reborn” and the bop-influenced busyness of “The Followers.” But the record also signifies the importance of the keyboards in all their diverse contexts — the funky rock of “Au-right,” and the smoldering, dreamy feel of “Peace,” for instance. And on “Manya” Duke lives it up as he shows off his exuberant experimental synth side.
“The Inner Source” continues in the same vein. “So There You Go” is a downright delightful waltz featuring e-piano, whereas “Some Time Ago” is pure tonal color and atmosphere. We find an exotic gem in “Nigerian Numberumba” in which an African Lamellophone is craftily simulated with an echoplex and ring modulator. Duke also begins to vary the lineup here. “Feels So Good” und “My Soul” are reinforced with Latin percussion, and incisive horn and reed instruments (luminaries from the Thad Jones and Santana entourages). The same with the title track, a masterstroke of quintet dramaturgy, with Duke on his first instrument, the trombone. As a curiosity, two basses compete with each other on “Twenty Five.” The last piece, “Always Constant,” is a more open piece that spontaneously unfolded in the studio.