All of you that know me know how much I love music, soul music primarily, but jazz in particular. Last week, we lost a musical giant and a real friend to so many of us. George Duke passed away. He was an L.A. based musician that I came in contact with in the late 70s and early 80s when jazz was at its best. He was a true impresario. Throughout the years, he played with everybody. Since he lived in L.A., he would be seen around town and came to be a real favorite at the Hollywood Bowl and the Playboy Jazz Festival. As a matter of fact, one of my hommies came by to see me today. I talked about how great he was at Playboy this past June. He and his wife and son could be seen around L.A. all the time, playing the big venues and smaller theaters. He and Stanley Clark and Patrice Rushon were legendary around town.
George was always the same. He was a black jazz musical Santa Claus, with his big tummy, fat cheeks, and great smile. He was always pleasant with everyone. It was like music was his secret weapon against everything bad. He could play everything with everyone at any time. When I went to Switzerland and Amsterdam, he was always like a family friend that made sure people treated me with respect and kindness. He and Elvin Jones and Wynton were always like that for me and so many other people.
George is going to be truly missed, but he has such a vast and profound songbook. He will never be forgotten. 67 years of active and impactful living is a good and substantive life. His wife died last July. Like Keiko Jones, she was his true partner. They were a beautiful couple. He had a wonderful family. I don’t know for sure, but I think she did a lot for him, and without her, he wasn’t as happy or impregnable. I’m comforted knowing they’re making music together again, with Elvin, Miles, and so many other great ones.
We all know people like George and how much they do to make our lives and our community better. If you know someone like that, tell them you love them and show them you appreciate what they do and how they represent all of us. I’m going to miss George and Elvin and my good friend and sister Lisa. But I’ll always love them, and I’m confident I’ll be seeing them again someday, someday not too soon, cause I still got work to do and I still have to represent them, as long as I can.
Much love, and God bless you all!