Roland Users Group
George Duke was born in San Rafael, California, and reared in Marin City, a working class section of Marin County. When he was just four years old, his mother took him to see Duke Ellington in concert. “I don’t remember it too well,” says George, “but my mother told me I went crazy. I ran around saying ‘Get me a piano, get me a piano!’” He began his piano studies at age seven, absorbing the roots of Black music in his local Baptist church. “That’s where I first began to play funky. I really learned a lot about music from the church. I saw how music could trigger emotions in a cause-and-effect relationship.”
By the age of sixteen, George had played with a number of high school jazz groups. He was heavily influenced by Miles Davis and the soul-jazz sound of Les McCann and Cal Tjader. Attending the San Francisco Conservatory Of Music and majoring in trombone and composition with a minor in contrabass, he received his Bachelor of Music degree in 1967.
George and a young singer named Al Jarreau formed a group which became the house band at San Francisco’s Half Note Club. “There was another club up the street called The Both/And and I worked there on Mondays with everybody from Letta Mbulu to Sonny Rollins and Dexter Gordon.” George later received a Masters Degree in composition from San Francisco State University and briefly taught a course on Jazz And American Culture at Merritt Junior College in Oakland. It was about this time that George began to release a series of jazz LP’s on the MPS label.
One night, on a local jazz station, George heard a record by the violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. When he found out that Jean-Luc was coming to California to record, he sent a tape to Dick Bock at World-Pacific Records, along with a note saying “There is no other pianist for this guy but me.”
George Duke became a solo artist in 1976, and enjoyed success with a series of fusion-oriented LP’s such as his debut CBS LP, From Me To You. In 1978, the funk-flavored sound of the gold album Reach For It propelled George Duke into the upper reaches of the charts, and from small clubs to large arenas.
Today, more than 30 years later and with dozens of albums under his belt, George is still touring and entertaining audiences worldwide with his great music.
George is very excited about the new V-Piano and has a great way of showing it on this V-Piano video…