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The scope of keyboardist-composer-producer GEORGE DUKE’s imprint on jazz and pop music over the past 40 years is almost impossible to calculate. He has collaborated with some of the most prominent figures in the industry. A producer since the 1980s, he has crafted scores of fine recordings — many of them Grammy winners — for artists representing almost every corner of the contemporary American music landscape.
George Duke entered the jazz scene in the 1960s as a pianist in a straight-ahead trio in San Francisco. By the end of the decade, he had begun exploring more progressive avenues by recording with the likes of Jean-Luc Ponty and Frank Zappa. In the ’70s, he worked with an array of artists: Cannonball Adderley, Sonny Rollins, Billy Cobham, Michael Jackson, Stanley Clarke, and many others. By the ’80s, he had shifted his emphasis to producing — Dee Dee Bridgewater, Melissa Manchester, Take 6, Anita Baker, Natalie Cole, and more — yet still maintained a solo discography of his own. He has also composed music for numerous motion picture and television projects, and has maintained a consistent presence on the Billboard charts since the mid-’70s. He has scored six Grammy nominations for solo recordings, and has produced numerous albums for other artists that have been Grammy winners.
For the better part of 25 years, Duke has composed and recorded numerous scores for film and television. In addition to nine years as the musical director for the Soul Train Music Awards, he also wrote music — either individual songs or entire soundtracks — for a number of films, including The Five Heartbeats, Karate Kid III, Leap of Faith, Never Die Alone, and Meteor Man.
With more than 30 solo recordings in his canon and a resume that spans more than 40 years, Duke joined forces with the Heads Up label in August 2008 with the release of Dukey Treats, a return to the old-school funk sensibilities of icons like James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, and Parliament/Funkadelic. A careful balance of rhythmic energy and simmering balladry, Dukey Treats recalls the golden age of funk and soul while at the same time maintaining a fresh sound and addressing issues that are relevant to the global culture of the 21st century.