I meant George and Corine Duke at a concert we both played in San Diego. Of course George’s music was well known to me and getting a chance to work with him was incredible. Our first writing and recording was on “Take Me With You” CD and we wrote “I’m Calling You”. Under his production, we made four more CD’s together and his love and friendship was ever present in every song. He taught me so much and he was always giving his time and energy to all the music we made. His advice to me was simple, “ put everything you have into the moment and walk away happy for the very chance of doing it”. My favorite recording we did together is “Nightcap”. For me, his arrangements and playing showed just how beautiful he was and I am so grateful I was able to share that with him.
George also received a Grammy nomination for his arrangement of,“The Look of Love”, from our “Avenues of Love” CD in 1998. I would come to his studio with the soul purpose of seeing Corine and sharing time with George. They both always listened to my ideas and we talked. His laughter and way in life was always hopeful and inspiring. Soon someone else would arrive like, Byron Miller, who I met there and the room was quickly full of people dropping by for the same purpose as I had, for the love of George.
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 McCannand 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.