George Duke
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George Duke Biography

George Duke (born 12 January 1946 in San Rafael, California) is a piano and synthesizer pioneer and singer. He made a name for himself with the album The Jean-Luc Ponty Experience with the George Duke Trio. He is known for his solo work as well as for his collaborations with other musicians, particularly Frank Zappa.

Duke attended Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley before earning a bachelor's degree in music from the San Francisco Conservatory in 1967.

He appeared on a number of Zappa's albums in the early and mid-1970s, including Chunga's Revenge, 200 Motels, Waka/Jawaka, The Grand Wazoo, Apostrophe, One Size Fits All, Bongo Fury and Roxy & Elsewhere. 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 and Mike Mainieri's fusion group Steps Ahead, for whom he produced the track "Magnetic Love." He also served as a producer and composer for 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 thanks to funk gems like "Reach for It" and "Dukey Stick" when in 1979 he ventured to Rio to record probably his best known album called, 'A Brazilian Love Affair'. He employed singers Flora Purim and Milton Nascimento and percussionist Airto Moreira. Although not the return to instrumental jazz some hoped it would be, this musical effort does contain its share of jazz-influenced material. From a jazz standpoint, the album's most noteworthy songs include Nascimento's "Cravo e Canela," "Love Reborn," and the exuberant "Up from the Sea It Arose and Ate Rio in One Swift Bite." From the same album came the charming gem "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 a fine example of Brazilian pop at its most sensuous. However one labels or categorizes this music, the album is clearly a labor of love from start to finish.

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.[1] Duke was also a judge for the 2nd annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers. [2]

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"; "For Love", sampled by underground hip hop artist MF Doom on his track "I Hear Voices"; "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 blues influenced hip hop-produer 9th Wonder for his collaboration album with Kaze (rapper) for the track "Spirit Of '94" on the album "Spirit Of '94: Version 9.0".

Recently Duke worked with Jill Scott on the 3rd single from her sophomore album "Whenever You're Around". Since it was released it has peaked at #56 on U.S. Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks.

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