Singer Al Jarreau and bassist Stanley Clarke will celebrate the legacy of their friend and musical partner George Duke on the opening day of the 36th annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, which is presenting the festival for the first time, announced the lineup for the June 14-15 event on Monday, reports the AP. George Benson and fellow smooth jazz guitarist Earl Klugh will headline the closing concert.
Saturday’s concert will pay tribute to Duke, the keyboardist, singer, composer and producer who headlined last year’s Playboy opener and was a frequent participant in the Los Angeles area’s biggest jazz event. Duke, 67, died of leukemia last August shortly after releasing his chart-topping contemporary jazz CD “Dreamweaver,” which included a straight-ahead acoustic jazz track featuring Clarke.
Jarreau first performed with Duke in the house band at San Francisco’s Half Note Club in the late ’60s and the keyboardist was featured on the singer’s 1981 album “Breakin’ Away.” Clarke and Duke recorded three groove-oriented albums together, including 1981′s “Clarke/Duke Project” with the R&B hit single “Sweet Baby.”
Comedian George Lopez said he’s “thrilled” to be hosting the Playboy festival again after taking over from long-time emcee Bill Cosby last year. “This year’s lineup of talent is unparalleled, and it’s going to be a great weekend of music,” Lopez said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. Saturday’s lineup includes singer Dianne Reeves, who featured her cousin Duke on several of her albums; pianist Kenny Barron’s trio with guest saxophonist Ravi Coltrane; trumpeter Arturo Sandoval’s big band and British singer-pianist Jamie Cullum.
Jazz musician George Duke died Monday in Los Angeles at age 67. A pioneer in the funk and R&B genres, he had been battling chronic lymphocytic leukemia, according to his label Concord Music Group, which confirmed his death. “The outpouring of love and support that we have received from my father’s friends, fans and the entire music community has been overwhelming,” said his son, Rashid Duke, in a statement. “Thank you all for your concern, prayers and support.”
Born in San Rafael, Calif., Duke aspired to a music career from an early age, after his mother took him to a Duke Ellington concert. “I remember seeing this guy in a white suit, playing this big thing, which I later found out was a piano,” Duke told USA TODAY in 1997. “He had all these guys around him, and he was waving his hands conducting, and he spoke very intelligently and seemed to be having a good time. And his name was Duke, and my last name was Duke. I told my mom, ‘I want to be him.’ That moment in time set the stage for me.”
Over the course of his four-decade-plus career, the Grammy Award-winning keyboardist put out more than 40 albums and collaborated with artists such as Frank Zappa, Miles Davis, Jill Scott and Michael Jackson. His music was also sampled by Kanye West, Daft Punk and Common. “It’s a wonderful thing that has happened under the banner of jazz,” Duke told USA TODAY of his career longevity. “In R&B and rock, when you are over a certain age, they say goodbye to you. But in jazz, you just kind of level off and continue to gain respect, so long as you keep your integrity.”
Duke’s final album, DreamWeaver, was released July 16 and made its debut at No. 1 on Billboard‘s contemporary jazz chart. It was his first new music since the death of his wife, Corine, last year. To learn more about Duke’s life and music, click here. Also, watch a video of Duke recording his classic “Dukey Stick” below: