The Chop House: George Duke’s Classic Performance at the 1976 Montreux Jazz Fest

With “The Chop House,” we explore classic performances from bands with — you know — “chops.” Genres like progressive rock, art-rock, jazz-fusion — they’re nearly extinct in our current music culture. These days, we live (and consume art) impatiently, favoring a quick fix over a challenge. But here at Hidden Track, we refuse to let the dazzling, confrontational spirit of these wonderful bands die.

georgeduke

Legendary keyboardist, songwriter, and bandleader George Duke passed away on Monday, losing his fight with chronic lymphocytic leukemia at age 67.

Duke was an icon in the jazz-fusion community, helping shape the genre in the in 1970s with his much-overlooked solo material — and, more famously, with his work as a side-man for legends like Frank Zappa and Miles Davis.

His true break-out album was 1969’s The Jean-Luc Ponty Experience with the George Duke Trio, a collaboration with Ponty, the virtuoso violinist. But Duke truly made his mark later in the ’70s when he joined up with Zappa, adding a rich layer of soul and funkinesss to the composer’s often avant-garde compositions. Duke lent his distinctive synth runs, sophisticated keys, and breezy falsetto to Zappa’s classic ’70s albums, including the fusion-based ’72 stand-out The Grand Wazoo, the raunchy 1973 commercial break-out Over-Nite Sensation, and 1975’s progressive-minded One Size Fits All.

Duke was hugely prolific as a solo artist, recording dozens of albums under his own name. Other notable collaborations include his keyboard work on Michael Jackson’s 1979 classic Off the Wall and Miles Davis’ 1986 comeback album, Tutu.

Before his death, Duke finished work on a new LP, Dreamweaver, which he dedicated to his late wife, who passed away one year prior.

Duke has left behind an incredible body of work. In celebration of his incredible life, here’s Duke playing with at the 1976 Montreux Jazz Festival as part of the Billy Cobham & George Duke Band.

Full Line-Up: George Duke (keyboards, vocals), John Scofield (lead guitar), Alfonso Johnson (bass), Billy Cobham (drums)

Setlist:

1. 0:00:00 Panhandler 4:18
2. 0:04:18 Juicy 8:10
3. 0:12:28 Red Baron 7:51
4. 0:20:19 Almustafa The Beloved 9:07
5. 0:29:26 Ivory Tattoo 5:37
6. 0:35:03 Some Day 9:54
7. 0:44:57 Hip Pockets 8:06
8. 0:53:03 Drum Solo 8:00
9. 1:01:03 Sweet Wine 3:53
10. 1:04:56 Life & Time 4:15
11. 1:09:11 Stratus 5:10
12. 1:14:21 That’s What She Said 5:00

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