Hello, Spring!

Springtime Greeting/George Duke Legacy

Welcome back East Coasters and New Yorkers. Seriously…I really do envy you and what you’ll be seeing when trees begin to bud and show those little green nubs that almost in slow motion open before your very eyes and fill the trees out with beautiful shades of green. And then the flowers!! With short sleeves and flip-flops soon to come. No one can understand those joys of spring like folks who’ve been through a winter like 2015. There’s a new meaning for Boston Strong. I really do love this change of seasons.

Last spring all of this mixed with the “Celebration of George Duke” experience in the recording studio. What a joyous springtime celebration. That album continues to be in the top 25 of the Jazz Charts and spent more than 20 weeks in the Top 10. That’s a great outing and people continue to ask me about that production and all of the great artists who participated:

George Duke and his sons, Rashid and John, Concord Records and John Burke, Joe Gordon, my manager, Joe Turano, Stanley Clarke, Boney James, Marcus Miller, Dianne Reeves, Gerald Albright, Dr. John, Lalah Hathaway, Jeffrey Osborne, Kelly Price, Paul Jackson Jr, Jubu, Greg Phillinganes, Patrice Rushen, John Beasley, JR Robinson, Lenny Castro, Mike Cottone, Bobby Sparks, Brandon Coleman, Rob Bacon, Alex Al, Omari Williams, Porcha Clay, Katriz Trinidad, Fred Martin, Seth Presant, Patrick Lundquist and so many others who contributed to the effort.

There’s enough inspirational fire in that furnace of George contributions to keep the creative juices flowing forever. Thank you again to everybody who played and sang on the album and of course to all of the people who purchased it.

Thinking and talking about George this year has made me think really hard and long about the extended relevance of the George Duke Legacy.

George Duke Legacy

The essence of what George Duke left us as a legacy is more and more important these days. You could easily call it a serious love and commitment to the craft and the beauty of the work itself. This is accompanied by a certainty that this on its own can sustain a constant joy for the work and how it inspires a happiness and deep fulfillment for those who do it.

Push the button, flip the switch, and out comes the “whatever”. That’s what we’ve become as a society and culture. That’s how we expect a degree from a university or a job. Push the button, flip the switch, and out comes the product. But people write poetry, paint oils, work on old muscle cars, invent microchips and create digital devices because there is something in the process of doing it that’s enjoyable for the individual who does it. There’s a real danger to our wonderful productive society when we lose this connection. Truth is we stop doing things if we don’t find the thrill in playing the game. You got game, homes? Here’s the ball. Bring it.

That approach to life where you just push the button kills our ingenuity and our productivity. George loved the process of learning to play his instrument, which helped him write a beautiful song that brought happiness and joy to people. You could fly in your mind with George or shake your booty. In short, that’s the George Duke Legacy. Learn your instrument, discover what it does and enjoy the doing of it. That’s not “button pushing”.

And so yes, George did music that sounded like ‘Earth Wind and Fire”, the finest moments of Billy Cobham and John McLaughlin’s fusion, and Parliament-Funkadelic. To be sure, even all of this great variety came as a result of the desire to express himself in every way possible on his instrument. That’s Music 101 at “Duke University”.

There’s something about getting grey that makes your gratitude quotient explode. It’s happening right now! Come with me.




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