Tuesday, August 6, 2013

George Duke is gone, long live Duke's music

George Duke
It's only been in the last couple of weeks that I came across a video of keyboardist Greg Phillinganes trying out a new musical toy with another keyboard great, George Duke.  I came across the video as I was getting a more personalized taste of Phillinganes' talent.  I stayed there for a while in large part because of the gifts that George Duke put on display.

And now, George Duke is gone.  He died Monday at age 67 from chronic lymphocytic leukemia.  Another great in the music world has passed away, leaving us to revel in the wonderful art that's left behind.

Duke's bio is rich in music education, as a student and a teacher as well as a performer.  He earned a Masters Degree in composition from San Francisco State University.  It would serve him well in his career.  He played with jazz fusion favorites of mine, like Jean-Luc Ponty and Stanley Clarke and Billy Cobham.  His skill as a musician would especially be put to the test in his playing with that mad, avant-garde compositional genius known as Frank Zappa.

He more than held his own.

After getting the news of Duke's death, fans of Zappa and Duke now like to think of the two of them as being "somewhere up there" cranking out the tunes.

It's a nice thought.

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