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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

George Duke has passed - My thoughts are with his family and friends


Duke played with the likes of Frank Zappa, Michael Jackson, George Clinton, Anita Baker and Regina Belle.

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Duke played with the likes of Frank Zappa, Michael Jackson, George Clinton, Anita Baker and Regina Belle.

George Duke, the master keyboardist who bridged the worlds of jazz, R&B, funk, and Brazilian music, died Monday at St John’s Hospital in Los Angeles. He was 67.
No cause was given.
Duke’s passing comes just over a year after the death of his wife, Corine, from cancer last July. The keyboardist dedicated his just-released album, “DreamWeaver,” to her memory.
PHOTOS: STARS GONE TOO SOON
Jazz keyboardist George Duke, pictured in 1960, died  Monday at St John’s Hospital in Los Angeles.

Tom Copi

Jazz keyboardist George Duke, pictured in 1960, died Monday at St John’s Hospital in Los Angeles.

In a career that spanned more than 40 years, Duke worked with stars including Michael Jackson, on 1979’s “The Wall,” Miles Davis, producing and composing tracks on several key albums of the ‘80s, and Frank Zappa, with whom he appeared on “Mothers of Invention” albums from 1970 through the early ‘90s.
Duke, who was born in San Rafael, Calif., studied trombone, contrabass and composition at the San Francisco Conservatory, where he graduated in 1967. But his made his name expressing himself on a wide variety of keyboards, from acoustic piano to clavinet to all manner of synthesizers. He became a key player in the development of jazz-fusion in the late ‘60s, particularly after collaborating with violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. The release of their joint album, “The Jean-Luc Ponty Experience with The George Duke Trio,” cemented his reputation in 1969.
Duke veered into the avant-garde through his work with Zappa, which began with 1970’s “Chunga’s Revenge.” He also appeared in the Zappa movie “200 Motels” in 1971 and played on important Mothers’ albums like “Over-Nite Sensation” and “Apostrophe.”
PHOTOS: IN MEMORIAM: STARS WE'VE LOST IN 2013
George Duke performs on stage during the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz 2007 festival  in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Gallo Images/Getty Images

George Duke performs on stage during the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz 2007 festival in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Duke made major waves in the R&B world by collaborating with musicians from George Clinton to Anita Baker to Regina Belle. In the ‘70s, he established his deep connection to Brazilian music, recording and performing with Milton Nascimento, Flora Purim, and Airto Moreira.
In the hip-hop world, the keyboarist’s songs have been sampled by acts from Daft Punk to Kanye West to Ice Cube.
Duke issued more than 40 albums under his own name, some in collaboration with drummer Billy Cobham or bassist Stanley Clarke. Throughout his career, Duke had the ability to make synthetic instruments — like the ARP Odyssey and Prophet 5 — sound soulful. His playing could be sensitive or disruptive, but in any guise, it showed total command.
He is survived by two sons, Rasheed and John. Funeral services will be private.
Upon hearing the news of his passing, jazz flutist Bobi Humphrey posted on her Facebook page, “George Duke! Forty years, my friend! Heaven! A little bit funkier!”



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