George Duke, generally considered the greatest Jazz Keyboardist of all time, was declared dead today. The announcement came from Duke’s record label that claims Duke died after a long battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He was 67.
George Duke is perhaps best know for the vast numbers of better known Jazz talents he worked with. In his career, that spanned over five decades, Duke worked alongside Gladys Knight, Anita Baker, Rachelle Ferrell, Stanley Clarke, and countless others. In the mid-60’s, Duke perhaps gained his highest level of fame as he played as a member of Frank Zappa’s recording and touring band. For the kids out there: you know how Dave Matthew’s musicians are more talented than he is? Frank Zappa was kind of the 1960s version of that.
Duke himself admitted in a 2008 interview that he could no longer remember how many albums he had made. This is not because Duke’s mind was impaired, but because he had just done so many songs that it eventually became impossible to track. Duke’s keyboard skills translated well across the fifty-year span, with multiple genres of music finding a place for his skills.
Duke produced his last album, DreamWeaver¸ earlier this month. The album was produced as a tribute to Duke’s former wife who died herself of cancer last year.
When describing his upcoming album, Duke said, "I don't want people to get the idea that this is a morbid record, because it's more about celebration."
DreamWeaver will still surely soon be released, and will go on as a final tribute not just to Duke’s wife, but to himself as well.