Duke Way Photo
Just Sayin album cover
Alligator Wings album cover

Duke's latest album, Just Sayin', just escaped! Or rather, it was released. Just Sayin' can be heard in its entirety on this YouTube playlist. Hard copies are available at Fret Shop, Jim Cavender or from Duke himself.

Having worked for NASA for many years, Duke Way is embarking on a second career as a recording artist (outer space journeys of a different sort). 2014's Alligator Wings and his latest release, Just Sayin', contain spoken word narratives set to music that can be classified as jazz, but also includes touches of funk, gospel, world music and more. A Louisiana influence percolates throughout his work, as Duke grew up in Hammond and Port Sulphur, and later attended LSU in Baton Rouge, where he played drum kit for the Leonard Root Trio. Through the years, he studied African-based hand drumming with master drummers Kalhid Saleem and Babatunde Olatunji.

Precedents for Duke's philosophical speechifying range much further than just beat generation artists such as Jack Kerouac, Ken Nordine, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and others. They also include the stand-up comedy of Lenny Bruce and George Carlin, the offbeat children's stories of Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein, and even the recent bizarro work of William Shatner. But Duke brings a musicality to his monologues that is entirely his own. His verbal timing is as interactive with the music as any first-rate jazz soloist.

The "Johnny The Lip" suite is a five-part spoken word "jazz opera" that tells the story of a young trumpet player's quest to find "the note that isn't there." The tale draws you in like a great movie or play. You'll find yourself rooting for Johnny just like his New Orleans audience does in the story.

The albums not only showcase Way's percussion, poetry and storytelling artistry, but also spotlight much of the jazz scene in his current home city of Huntsville, Alabama. Bands such as Keith Taylor Trio, rjr, Dawn Osborne Band and Trio El Camino, and many other guests (including members of the U.S. Army's Four Star Jazz Orchestra stationed at Redstone Arsenal) contribute to a brightly varied music scene in Huntsville that serves as the colorful backdrop for Duke Way and his beat-era poetry.

"It's been many years since I've heard fluid lines & strange thoughts as well-spoken as these! [Duke] will just blow you away, without any added substances... lol!" -- Dick Metcalf, Improvijazzation Nation

"Duke's voice is that of a clever friend and teacher, even when he's urging you to 'Be afraid. Be very afraid.' " -- Marylyn Coffey, UAHuntsville

"Upon hearing Alligator Wings, you will... realize that you've just heard something completely unlike anything you've heard recently. It's a fascinating, twisted, beautiful, cracked work of art, and highly, highly recommended." -- Doug Bennett, The Valley Planet

"It's so beat! Duke Way is the way to go!" -- Taran Singh, Taran's Free Jazz Hour, radio-g 101.5 fm, Angers, France

Some of Mr. Way's complete tracks from Alligator Wings can be heard on his Soundcloud page or on YouTube. If you know of other artists creating a jazz/spoken word hybrid, please let us know at startlinglyfreshrecords@gmail.com. Duke's music has intrigued us, and we'd like to check out others like him.