George Duke (born January 12, 1946 - August 5, 2013) was a multi-faceted American musician, known as a keyboard pioneer, composer, singer and producer in both jazz and popular mainstream musical genres. He has worked with numerous acclaimed artists as arranger, music director, writer and co-writer, record producer and professor of music. He first made a name for himself with the album The Jean-Luc Ponty Experience with the George Duke Trio. He is known primarily for thirty-odd solo albums as well as for his collaborations with other musicians, particularly Frank Zappa.
Career[edit source | edit]Edit
Duke attended Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley before earning a bachelor's degree in trombone and composition with a minor in contrabass, from the San Francisco Conservatory in 1967. Playing initially with friends from garages to local clubs, Duke quickly eased his way into session work, which refined his abilities and expanded his approach to music. (He later earned his Masters Degree in composition from San Francisco State University. His website mentions a short stint teaching a course on Jazz And American Culture at Merritt Junior College in Oakland). Beginning in 1967 Duke experimented further with jazz fusion, playing and recording with violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, as well as performing with the Don Ellis Orchestra, andCannonball Adderley's band, while he acquainted himself with the avantgarde musician Frank Zappa. Duke appeared on a number of Frank Zappa's albums in the early and mid-1970s, including Chunga's Revenge, 200 Motels, Waka/Jawaka, The Grand Wazoo, Apostrophe, Over-Nite Sensation, One Size Fits All, Bongo Fury and Roxy & Elsewhere. 1992 Movie "Leap of Faith" Gospel songs and choir produced by George Duke and choir master Edwin Hawkins. Duke's other high-profile collaborators include Jean-Luc Ponty, Stanley Clarke, Billy Cobham, Cannonball Adderley, his cousin Dianne Reeves, Deniece Williams, Jeffrey Osborne, George Clinton, Anita Baker, Regina Belle, Rachelle Ferrell, Marilyn Scott andMike Mainieri's jazz fusion group Steps Ahead, for whom he produced the track "Magnetic Love." Duke played on Herb Ellis' album, Soft Shoe (Concord, 1974) with Harry Sweets Edison; Duke played the piano and organ.
He also served as a record producer and composer on two instrumental tracks on Miles Davis albums: "Backyard Ritual" (from Tutu, 1986) and "Cobra" (from Amandla, 1989). He has also worked with a number of notable Brazilian musicians, including singer Milton Nascimento, percussionist Airto Moreira and singer Flora Purim. Sheila E appeared on Duke's late-1970s solo albums Don't Let Go and Master of the Game.
Duke had been fairly visible in the R&B world releasing funk-based songs like "Reach for It" and "Dukey Stick". In 1979 he traveled to Rio de Janeiro, where he recorded A Brazilian Love Affair. He employed singers Flora Purim and Milton Nascimento and percussionist Airto Moreira. The album featured some Latin jazz and jazz-influenced material. From a jazz standpoint, the album's most noteworthy songs include Nascimento's "Cravo e Canela," "Love Reborn," and "Up from the Sea It Arose and Ate Rio in One Swift Bite." In addition was "Brazilian Sugar" which was featured on the 2006 video game Dead or Alive Xtreme 2. Meanwhile, Nascimento's vocal on the ballad "Ao Que Vai Nascer" is an example of Brazilian pop at its most sensuous. This acclaimed album contained a wide variety of genres.
Duke has also worked as musical director at numerous large-scale musical events, including the Nelson Mandela tribute concert at Wembley Stadium, London in 1988. In 1989, he temporarily replaced Marcus Miller as musical director of NBC's acclaimed late-night music performance program Sunday Night during its first season. Duke was also a judge for the 2nd annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers. 
"No Rhyme or No Reason" can be heard during the period of time designated as Quiet Storm.
Duke's songs have been used by a wide variety of contemporary musicians in a wide array of genres. These include: "I Love You More", sampled by house music-act Daft Punk for their hit "Digital Love"; "Guilty", sampled by electronica music artist Mylo in his song "Guilty of Love" on Destroy Rock & Roll.
"Someday", sampled by hip hop artist/producer Kanye West for Common in "Break My Heart" on his "Finding Forever" album; "You and Me", sampled and used by soul/rhythm and bluesinfluenced hip hop-producer 9th Wonder for his collaboration album with Kaze for the track "Spirit Of '94" on the album Spirit Of '94: Version 9.0; and "Reach for It", sampled by Ice Cube in "True to the Game" on his Death Certificate album and Spice 1 in "In My Neighborhood" on his self-titled debut album.
More recently, Duke worked with Jill Scott on her third studio album, The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3; guesting on the track, "Whenever You're Around". Since it was released it has peaked at No.56 on U.S. Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks.
George Duke performed on the title track of Teena Marie's Congo Square album.
In the summer of 2011, he put together a trio with David Sanborn and Marcus Miller for a tour across the US of more than 20 sold out shows.
By popular vote, Duke was inducted into The SoulMusic Hall Of Fame at SoulMusic.com in December 2012.
Duke died August 5, 2013 in Los Angeles from chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He was 67 and is survived by his sons, Rasheed and John.
Discography[edit source | edit]Edit
As leader[edit source | edit]Edit
|George Duke Quartet Presented by the Jazz Workshop 1||1966||MPS,SABA|
|The Jean-Luc Ponty Experience with the George Duke Trio||1969||Pacific Jazz|
|Save the Country 2||1970||Pickwick|
|The Inner Source (2-LP)||1971||MPS/BASF|
|Faces in Reflection||1974||MPS/BASF|
|The Aura Will Prevail||1974||MPS/BASF|
|I Love the Blues, She Heard My Cry||1975||MPS/BASF|
|The Billy Cobham – George Duke Band 'Live' on Tour in Europe||1976||Atlantic|
|The Dream 4||1976||MPS/BASF|
|From Me to You||1977||Epic/CBS|
|Reach for It||1977||Epic/CBS|
|Don't Let Go||1978||Epic/CBS|
|Follow the Rainbow||1979||Epic/CBS|
|Master of the Game||1979||Epic/CBS|
|Brazilian Love Affair||1980||Epic/CBS|
|Clarke/Duke Project 2||1983||Epic/CBS|
|Guardian of the Light||1983||Epic/CBS|
|Thief in the Night||1985||Elektra|
|Night After Night||1989||Elektra|
|Clarke/Duke Project 3||1990||Epic/CBS|
|Muir Woods Suite 5||1993||Warner Bros.|
|Is Love Enough||1997||Warner Bros.|
|After Hours||1998||Warner Bros.|
|Face the Music||2002||Bizarre Planet|
|In a Mellow Tone||2006||Bizarre Planet|
|Dukey Treats||2008||Heads Up|
|Déjà Vu||2010||Telarc Jazz|
1 Rereleased as "The Primal" by MPS in 1978. 2 Rereleased as "Pacific Jazz" by United Artists in 1978 albeit with a different tracklisting. 3 Solus was recorded in April 1971 and intended to be released as a single album by SABA but when SABA folded and became MPS the powers that be decided to postpone its release. They finally put it out as a double album in 1976 together with George's MPS debut "The Inner Source". The latter was recorded in October 1971. 4 Recorded in 1976 and released in 1978 (Europe-only). Released in the USA (in a slightly different version) as "The 1976 Solo Keyboard Album" by Epic/CBS in 1982.5 Recorded in 1993 at the Montreaux jazz festival but the release got postponed until 1996.
As sideman[edit source | edit]Edit
- Chunga's Revenge (1970)
- 200 Motels (1971)
- Waka/Jawaka (1972)
- The Grand Wazoo (1972)
- Over-Nite Sensation (1973)
- Apostrophe (') (1974)
- Roxy & Elsewhere (1974)
- One Size Fits All (1975)
- Bongo Fury (1975)
- Studio Tan (1978)
- Them or Us (1984)
- You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 2 (1988)
- Läther (1996)
With The Keynotes
- Get On That Gospel Train (MPS 1973)
With Gene Ammons
- Brasswind (Prestige, 1974)
With Eddie Henderson
- Sunburst (Blue Note, 1975)
With Alphonse Mouzon
- The Man Incognito (Blue Note, 1975)
With Airto Moreira
- Virgin Land (Salvation, 1974)
With Flora Purim
- Stories To Tell (Milestone Records, 1974)
- Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly (Milestone Records, 1976)
- That's What She Said (Milestone Records, 1978)
- Carry On (Warner Bros, 1979)
With Michael Jackson
- Off the Wall (Epic, 1979)
With Miles Davis
With Jean-Luc Ponty
- Individual Choice (Atlantic, 1983)
With Dianne Reeves
- Dianne Reeves (Blue Note, 1987)
- Never Too Far (EMI, 1989)
- Quiet After The Storm (Blue Note, 1995)
- Bridges (Blue Note, 1999)
- In the Moment – Live in Concert (Blue Note, 2000)
With Regina Belle
- Lazy Afternoon (2004)
With Deniece Williams
- Let's Hear It For the Boy (Columbia, 1984)
- Love, Niecy Style (Shanachie, 2007)
With Joe Sample
- Sample This (Warner Bros, 1997)