The unexpected death of keyboard giant George Duke in August shook the music world, with especially heavy reverberation in the bass community. Simply put, as a player/composer/producer/arranger, Duke joins a select few others to have made an indelible mark in both the jazz and pop spheres with names like Cannonball Adderly, Frank Zappa, Miles Davis, Airto and Flora Purim, Michael Jackson, Jeffrey Osborne, Anita Baker, and Jill Scott. That also includes seminal collaborations and solo projects with close friend Stanley Clarke, Alphonso Johnson, Marcus Miller, and Christian McBride, and longtime sidemen Byron Miller, Larry Kimpel, and Michael Manson—as well as album appearances with Earth, Wind & Fire, Tower Of Power, Larry Graham, and Bootsy Collins (not to mention his aura all over Thundercat’s The Golden Age of Apocalypse).
On his final CD—dedicated to his late wife, Corine—Duke draws from all the styles he mastered with his usual stamp of quality and originality. Stanley Clarke anchors and blows on the four-horn acoustic jazz bossa “Stones of Orion,” Michael Manson drives the funk-rock “Brown Sneakers” with snarling 16ths, and Larry Kimpel locks down the universal lyric and harmonic brilliance of “You Never Know.” Christian McBride, on bass guitar, summons Jaco and James Brown for the let-the-tape-run gathering, “Burnt Sausage Jam,” and George himself mans a mean synth bass to dirty up “Ashtray.” Godspeed, Sir Duke, and thanks for all the great music!