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Laura Nyro
Elton John & Leon Russell: Keyboard colleagues
Elton John & Leon Russell: Keyboard colleagues

Few people can get away with telling an anecdote about being on safari in Africa and make it sound like a trip to the supermarket. But for Elton John, that's precisely how and where he became inspired to call his keyboard-playing pal Leon Russell after more than three decades since they'd last spoken. That call ultimately led them to record "The Union," a duet album coming out Oct. 19. "In 2008, I did a [Sundance cable channel] program called 'Spectacle,' which I produced with my partner, David Furnish," said John, 63, referencing the Elvis Costello-hosted music interview-performance series he helped create. "I chose three singer-songwriters...