Sunday, January 14, 2007

Artist of the Week: George Duke

This week, my Artist of the Week is George Duke. George was born in San Rafael, California, and grew up in Marin County. He started studying the piano at age seven. After exposure to music at his local Baptist church, he was heavily influenced by jazz musicians. By the time he had reached the age of sixteen, George had already played with a number of high school jazz groups. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Music degree, from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and, later, a Masters Degree in Composition, from San Francisco State University.
George performed with a number of significant artists, such as Al Jarreau, Jean Luc-Ponty, Frank Zappa, Cannonball Adderly, Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, Stanley Clarke, and Billy Cobham. In 1976, George became a solo artist and released several albums in the fusion style. In the late 70s, his combination of fusion and funk resulted in chart success, including a gold album, "Reach For It," in 1978. It was at that time that I first got into George's music, buying several of his albums. At that time, George also decided to make the move into producing. His first major success came with an album for the group, A Taste of Honey. His talents as a producer have been employed in projects with Jeffrey Osborne, Deniece Williams, Melissa Manchester, Barry Manilow, Smokey Robinson, The Pointer Sisters, Gladys Knight, and Anita Baker, amongst others. Duke has also scored several films and television shows.
George continues to perform and record music, today. You can check him out on Myspace, at: . I hope a new generation discovers this man's talent.


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