George M. Duke (January 12, 1946 – August 5, 2013) was an American keyboardist, composer, singer-songwriter and record producer. He worked with numerous artists as arranger, music director, writer and co-writer, record producer and as a professor of music. He first made a name for himself with the album The Jean-Luc Ponty Experience with the George Duke Trio. He was known primarily for 32 solo albums, of which A Brazilian Love Affair from 1979 was his most popular, as well as for his collaborations with other musicians, particularly Frank Zappa.
|Born||January 12, 1946|
San Rafael, California, U.S.
|Died||August 5, 2013 (aged 67)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Occupation(s)||Musician, composer, musical director, producer, educator|
|Instrument(s)||Vocals, piano, synthesizer, saxophone, keytar, flute, bass guitar, trombone|
George M. Duke was born in San Rafael, California, United States, to Thadd Duke and Beatrice Burrell and raised in Marin City. At four years old, he became interested in the piano. His mother took him to see Duke Ellington in concert and told him about this experience. "I don't remember it too well, but my mother told me I went crazy. I ran around saying 'Get me a piano, get me a piano!'" He began his formal piano studies at the age of seven at a local Baptist church.
He 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 of Music in 1967. He earned a master's degree in composition from San Francisco State University in 1975.
Although Duke started playing classical music, he credited his cousin Charles Burrell for convincing him to switch to jazz. He explained that he "wanted to be free" and Burrell "more or less made the decision for me" by convincing him to "improvise and do what you want to do". He taught a course on jazz and American culture at Merritt College in Oakland.
Duke recorded his first album in 1966. His second was with French violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, with whom he performed in San Francisco. After Frank Zappa and Cannonball Adderley heard him play, they invited him to join their bands. He spent two years with Zappa as a member of The Mothers of Invention, two years with Adderley, then returned to Zappa. Zappa played guitar solos on his album Feel (1974). In 1975 he recorded with Pete Magadini (his Original drummer) the album Polyrhythm on Ibis Recordings. He recorded I Love the Blues She Heard My Cry with Zappa's bandmates Ruth Underwood, Tom Fowler, and Bruce Fowler and jazz guitarist Lee Ritenour.
Duke occasionally recorded under the name Dawilli Gonga, possibly for contractual reasons, when appearing on other artists' albums.
In 1977, Duke fused jazz with pop, funk, and soul music on his album From Me to You. Later, that same year, his album Reach for It entered the pop charts, and his audiences increased. In 1981, he began a collaboration with bassist Stanley Clarke that would last through the 1980s, which combined pop, jazz, funk, and R&B. Their first album contained the single "Sweet Baby", which became a Top 20 pop hit.
During the 1980s, Duke's career moved to a second phase as he spent much of his time as a record producer. He produced pop and R&B hits for A Taste of Honey, Jeffrey Osborne, and Deniece Williams. His clients included Anita Baker, Rachelle Ferrell, Everette Harp, Gladys Knight, Melissa Manchester, Barry Manilow, The Pointer Sisters, Smokey Robinson, Seawind, and Take 6.
Duke worked as musical director at the 1988 Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert at Wembley Stadium in London. In 1989, he temporarily replaced Marcus Miller as musical director of NBC's late-night music performance program Sunday Night during its first season. He was a judge for the second annual Independent Music Awards.
Awards and honors edit
Grammy awards edit
|1981||Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal||The Clarke/Duke Project||Nominated|
|1985||Best Recording for Children||"We Are The World (single)"||Nominated|
|1990||"Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal(s)"||Fumilayo (Track)||Nominated|
|1998||Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal(s)||"The Look Of Love (Track)"||Nominated|
|Best Contemporary Jazz Performance||"After Hours"||Nominated|
|2000||Best Traditional R&B Vocal Album||"Cool"||Nominated|
|Best Jazz Vocal Album||"In the Moment – Live in Concert"||Won|
|2001||Best Jazz Vocal Album||"The Calling"||Won|
|2005||Best Pop Instrumental Performance||"T-Jam"||Nominated|
Other honors edit
He was inducted into The SoulMusic Hall of Fame at SoulMusic.com
Al Jarreau recorded the tribute album My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke (Concord, 2014) with songs written by Duke. Appearing on the album were Gerald Albright, Stanley Clarke, Dr. John, Lalah Hathaway, Boney James, Marcus Miller, Jeffrey Osborne, Greg Phillinganes, Kelly Price, Dianne Reeves (Duke's cousin), and Patrice Rushen. The album received the 2015 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album.
- The George Duke Quartet Presented By The Jazz Workshop 1966 Of San Francisco (1966)
- Save the Country (1970)
- Solus (First Disc Of The Album The Inner Source) (1971)
- The Inner Source (Second Disc Of The Album The Inner Source) (1973)
- Faces in Reflection (1974)
- Feel (1974)
- The Aura Will Prevail (1975)
- I Love the Blues, She Heard My Cry (1975)
- Liberated Fantasies (1976)
- From Me to You (1977)
- Reach for It (1977)
- The Dream (aka The 1976 Solo Keyboard Album) (1978)
- Don't Let Go (1978)
- Follow the Rainbow (1979)
- Master of the Game (1979)
- A Brazilian Love Affair (1980)
- Dream On (1982)
- Guardian of the Light (1983)
- Rendezvous (1984)
- Thief in the Night (1985)
- George Duke (1986)
- Night After Night (1989)
- Snapshot (1992)
- Illusions (1995)
- Is Love Enough? (1997)
- After Hours (1998)
- Cool (2000)
- Face the Music (2002)
- Duke (2005)
- In a Mellow Tone (2006)
- Dukey Treats (2008)
- Déjà Vu (2010)
- DreamWeaver (2013)
- Artist Biography by Thom Jurek (1946-01-12). "George Duke | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-08-06.
- "George Duke obituary". The Guardian. 7 August 2013. Retrieved August 25, 2021.
- "George Duke biography". George Duke Online. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
- "Duke of Jazz". Magazine.sfsu.edu. Archived from the original on 2018-07-12. Retrieved 2018-07-12.
- Coryell, Julie; Friedman, Laura (2000). Jazz-rock Fusion: The People, the Music. Hal Leonard. pp. 192–. ISBN 978-0-7935-9941-7. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
- Digital, The Standard. "Legendary Jazz Artiste George Duke's Final Bow". Standard Digital News. Archived from the original on 4 January 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
- Jurek, Thom. "George Duke". AllMusic. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
- Watson, Ben, Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play, St Martin's Press, New York, 1993, p. 294.
- I Love the Blues She Heard My Cry, MPS Records-BAP 5071/BASF 5071/MPS Records MC 25671, 1975, sleeve notes
- "George Duke". Radioswissjazz.ch.
- Clarke, Stanley (24 March 2014). "Stanley Clarke Remembers George Duke". JazzTimes. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
- Kohlhaase, Bill (17 July 1990). "2 Musicians With a Meeting of the Minds". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
- "Sunday Night" episodes No.104 (1988), No.113 (1989), No.114 (1989), No.121 (1989)
- "Independent Music Awards". Independent Music Awards. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved 2013-08-06.
- "Jazz keyboardist George Duke dies at 67 - MSN Music News". Music.msn.com. Archived from the original on 2014-01-06. Retrieved 2013-08-06.
- "George Duke". grammy.com. Retrieved July 9, 2023.
- "The Soulmusic Hall Of Fame: Legacy (Posthumous) (Inductees) | Soul Music worldwide". Soulmusic.com. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- Mitchell, Gail (August 5, 2014). "Al Jarreau Salutes George Duke on New Star-Packed Album". Billboard.com. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
- Official website
- George Duke at IMDb
- George Duke at NPR Music
- George Duke at Find a Grave
- 2009 interview at All About Jazz
- 2010 interview
- George Duke Interview at NAMM Oral History Collection (2010)
- 2012 Interview: Part 1 Archived 2020-08-20 at the Wayback Machine, Part 2 Archived 2020-09-28 at the Wayback Machine