George Duke, born in San Rafael, California, was a keyboard pioneer, composer, vocalist and producer in both jazz and popular music genres. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the San Francisco Conservatory and a master’s degree from San Francisco State University where he refined his abilities and quickly eased his way into session work. Duke expanded his approach to music, which lead him to record and perform with some of the top musicians on the scene such as violinist Jean-Luc Pontry, Miles Davis and was very well acquainted with Frank Zappa.
Duke’s eclectic career spanned five decades and his work includes a wide assortment of genres. Prominent in the R&B genre Duke released songs like “Reach for It” and “Dukey Stick”. Over the years, he produced music for Gladys Knight, Jeffrey Osborne, Dianne Reeves, Jill Scott and introduced the world to vocalist Rachelle Ferrell.
Early in his career, Duke met a young vocalist Al Jarreau and they formed a group that became the house band at San Francisco’s Half Note Club where Duke would record their sets with one mic and a tape recorder. In 1981, Duke worked with Jarreau as keyboardist and arranger for "Breakin' Away," one of Jarreau's most commercially successful albums. The two maintained a 50-year friendship.
Our CD of the month for August is “My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke”. It’s a tribute release by Al Jarreau for his close friend who’s gone but not forgotten,released on August 5th, which is the one-year anniversary of Dukes untimely passing. The album has an impressive list of special guest including bassists Marcus Miller and Stanley Clarke, saxophonist Gerald Albright, Lalah Hathaway, Dianne Reeves and many more.
Listen in all month long for an opportunity to hear tracks from this CD as well as your opportunity to win it. Our CD of the Month, My Old Friend, on WEAA-FM.