Hi there folks!
George Duke 1946 – 2013
Today´s artist is a, in my jazz world, a true legend and goes under the name of George Duke and he was a piano player, producer, arranger, singer… and he began making/playing music since the 60:s when he was a member of sax man Cannonball Adderly’s band.
He was born in 1946 in San Rafael, California and died on August 5th 2013 Los Angeles from chronic lymphocytic leukemia . §First school was the Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley and after this one he went on to the San Fransisco Conservatory where he earned a bachelors degree in trombone(!) and composition in 1967.
Don´t know if this picture below is from 1967 but it shows George during his time with the Cannonball Adderley Quintet.
His career got started in the really old fashioned good old way, ok so what in earth does that mean??
So what i mean here is that he first started playing in the garage along with some other “garage friends” then moving up to local clubs. The rumour about him spread fast cause it didn´t take long before he got to do session work which refined his abillities and expanded his approach for music and later he would earn a master degree of composition from San Fransisco University.
George began early in 1967 to eperiment with jazz/fusion playing and recording with violinist Jean Luc Ponty and playing with Don Ellis Orchestra, Cannoball Adderly´s band as well all this while he acquainted himself with the perhaps not so unknown avantgarde musician Frank Zappa.
During the early and mid 70:s George played on a dozen albums with Frank Zappa. On the picture below with Frank Z´s band “Mothers of Invention” you can see a young George, second from the right in the upper line.
After this he´s been playing and arranging for a whole of different artists in different styles and genres and let´s give some examples below.
Let´s start with a drummer and a bass player, who he had great success with in the 70:s thou the three of them never played together, Billy Cobham, legendary jazz/fusion drummer, Stanley Clarke (legendary jazz/fusion bass player), Dianne Reeves, his cousin a singer, Everette Harp, saxplayer in the foremost smooth jazz genre and George have played on all of his 8 albums.
Left to right on pic above:George, today’s mega jazz-star bass player/singer Esperanza Spalding, singer Dianne Reeves (his cousin), singer Al Jarreau and sax player Igor Butman from 2013. Might have been one of George’s last performances.
In 2011 he toured along with Marcus Miller (bass) and David Sanborn (sax) and played in over 20 sold out venues!! Some others he worked with are Anita Baker, Regina Belle both as session player and producer, Jeffrey Osborne, the fusion group of Mike Mainieri called Steps Ahead, George Clinton (the grandpa of funk), Miles Davis and so on and so on…..to say the least he stayed busy for several decades. Nuff with name dropping now i promise lol!!
You might actually say that George discovered the true talent of former Prince drummer called Sheila E cause he was one of the very first to hire her and have her on the tours.
He has also worked with some of the most famous brazilian jazz/bossa artists/musicians and they all participated on his, in my and what i´ve read his own opinion as well, best album called “A Brazilian Love Affair“, picture below.
Thou he´s foremost known as a jazz musician some of his albums are way more r&b than jazz and some songs are pop. Personally i prefer his more slick fusion stuff and this guy have done plenty of that… I admit it´s kinda lame to only have 12 albums of this dude don’t you think so 😉
So let´s set the record straight here…the year has 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days…and this guy shows up in my town on the very same day i got married!! Thou things didn’t become or developed the way i expected or wanted them to be. As a result of that i’m no longer married. Not that i would ever blame George no way!! It’s very uncool to blame or accuse someone who’s no longer with us. Little did i know it was the first and last chance i ever got to see him live.
Wonderful pic of George and his beloved wife Corrine who past away about a year before he did. Thou he was ill losing his wife didn’t exactly make things better and it made his sickness grow stronger and he had less will to fight it i believe.
According to what i´ve read on Facebook and understood from those who knew both of them they were wonderful persons to deal with. Why do we lose so many so early who definetely not deserves it?? While others seems like they live forever and been doing all kind of stuff and been through all kinds of addictions. The answers to these questions we will never get cause God only knows why.
In the beginning i wrote that George died on August 5th 2013 and the day after when i woke up and checked my Facebook i saw a guy who had written “R.I.P. George Duke”. My first thought was like “say what!” “No way!”
Immediately i started to check every bigger american newspaper/newscompany i could find. Later his children or record company confirmed that he had actually passed away. Needless to say i didn’t listen to nothing else but George’s music that day. Anyway later the same day i received his last album with the mail how about that! To me it felt like he wanted to leave one last message like “Hey man i leave you now for good but i give you this so that you may remember me!” To quote a guy on Facebook “That’s deep man!”
Sometime in 2003 or maybe 2004 George had a week of solo concerts at a jazzclub in London and having a super tight schedual as these guys always have. Whilst having an hour to spare he went to a studio where british acid jazz band Incognito records their albums.
Co-founder and band leader Bluey (that´s his nic name) writes in the liner notes how he was totally blewn away of the presence of George and that itself would give energy for a long time. He further writes that just before he left George sat down at the Fender Rhodes and started to jam on a tune he never heard before!
How cool is that, in totally understand you Bluey i´m sure i´d have felt the same! The song that George jammed on was later to be called “Minding My Business” and is on the Incognito album “Adventures in Black Sunshine”, see picture above and is from 2004.
So back to slick and back to George again cause George has made the most slick song i´ve heard!! Consider this that i listen to a lot of slick music and have heard a lot slick stuff and donno how many cd:s i have with some slick stuff!!
The song is taken from the 1995 album called “Illussions”, picture below, and the song is a instrumental one called “Look What We Started Now” it´s only(?) 3 instruments Fender Rhodes, bass and drums.
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So once again enjoy your listening to the worlds most slick song according to me!!
Here comes George Duke and Look What We Started Now! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWWQZJZoOIk