Tuesday, August 6, 2013

George Duke

George Duke, a dynamic , versatile and wonderfully imaginative jazz keyboardist, has died. I was fortunate enough to have seen him three separate times with Frank Zappa's various virtuoso ensembles, and with the extraordinarily gifted jazz drummer drummer Billy Cobham in the Billy Cobham-George Duke Band. There wasn't any style or technique that Duke couldn't master and merge effortlessly with his own proclivities as an improviser and composer. He could master any of the ruthlessly complex pieces and arrangements Zappa could toss at him, and he could improvise with lyric grace, funk and deft alacrity over, under and between whatever chord and key changes happened to be in the mix. He was an amazing, under appreciated musician who gave me much pleasure in my concert going days. We've lost a major talent.