George Duke & Friends, featuring Christian McBride, Billy Cobham, Airto, Kenny Garrett, Roy Hargrove, Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Sample
Renowned musician and record producer GEORGE DUKE began piano studies at age seven after attending a Duke Ellington concert. Heavily influenced by the music of his local Baptist church and by Miles Davis and the soul-jazz sounds of Les McCann and Cal Tjader, he attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he studied trombone and composition, receiving his B.M. in 1967. After forming a San Francisco-based jazz trio with Al Jarreau, Duke went on to become a seminal force in the jazz-fusion movement, notably through his work with violinist Jean-Luc Ponty (with whom he formed the George Duke Trio), Frank Zappa, and Stanley Clarke. A two-year association with Cannonball Adderley resulted in performances with Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, Stanley Clarke, and Flora Purim & Airto Moreira.
After going solo with his successful fusion-based album From Me to You (1976), Duke began producing records with astounding success, starting with the multi-million-selling A Taste of Honey. He followed up with three albums for Jeffrey Osbourne (which included the top-ten singles "Stay With Me Tonight" and "On the Wings of Love") and two hit singles for Deniece Williams, "Let's Hear It for the Boys" and "Do What You Feel." He has also produced recordings by Melissa Manchester, Barry Manilow, Smokey Robinson, Phil Perry, Dianne Reeves, the Pointer Sisters, Take 6, Gladys Knight, and Anita Baker. Duke also has served as music director for many television specials and has composed music for TV and film. He appeared at Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2004, performing his composition Muir Woods Suite to an enthusiastic, sold-out audience.
Widely regarded as fusion's greatest drummer, BILLY COBHAM's explosive playing can be heard on groundbreaking recordings by Miles Davis and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. He made his debut as a leader with the classic album Spectrum in 1973. Collaborators from his early days include the Brecker Brothers, John Abercrombie, John McLaughlin, John Scofield, Tommy Bolin, and George Duke, who would become a frequent collaborator over the years.
In addition to his performances throughout the world with countless jazz artists, Cobham is an avid session musician who has explored the worlds of funk, rock, and beyond, having played live with the Grateful Dead, Jack Bruce, Peter Gabriel, and the Saturday Night Live band. In 2001 Rhino Entertainment released a two-CD retrospective celebrating his career, Rudiments: The Billy Cobham Anthology.
KENNY GARRETT may be the most consistently scintillating and inspiring alto/soprano saxophone force in jazz. The multi-Grammy nominee brings a muscular yet lyrical eloquence to everything from swinging hard with Miles Davis and Art Blakey to rockin' out with Sting and Peter Gabriel. Born in Detroit, Garrett was introduced to the saxophone at an early age by his father, who played tenor. College was placed on the back burner when, in 1978, Garrett won a slot in the Duke Ellington Orchestra (then under the direction of Duke's son, Mercer). Three years later, Kenny moved to New York and played with the Mel Lewis Orchestra and the Dannie Richmond Quintet.
He released his first album as a leader while he was also recording with Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard, and Woody Shaw. In 1986 Garrett began a five-year, four-album association with Miles Davis. This celebrated affiliation can be heard on the 20-disc box set The Complete Miles Davis at Montreux. He is a multi-Grammy nominee whose discography includes more than a dozen albums as a leader/headliner and more than 100 sideman credits. His eighth album for Warner Bros., Standard of Language, was released in 2003. Kenny Garrett can be heard on the soundtrack of the film Love Jones, and is a member of drummer Roy Haynes' Charlie Parker tribute band, Birds of a Feather.
Trumpeter and composer ROY HARGROVE may be only 35 years old, but he's already established a reputation as one of the most versatile and hardest-working players in jazz. With nine albums as a leader and two more as a co-leader, he's led quartets, quintets, nonets, and a big band. In 1996 he recorded the Afro-Cuban jazz landmark and Grammy-winning Habana.
Hargrove started learning the trumpet in fourth grade in his hometown of Waco, Texas. He attended Dallas's prestigious Booker T. Washington School for the Visual and Performing Arts, where he was "discovered" by Wynton Marsalis at a jazz clinic. Marsalis facilitated an audition with Fort Worth's Caravan of Dreams Performing Arts Center, where Hargrove ended up supporting Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie, and Herbie Hancock. In 1988 Hargrove went to study at Boston's Berklee School of Music. In 1990 he released his major label solo debut, Diamond in the Rough.
More recently, the trumpeter has ventured into the black pop mainstream as a collaborator, first with D'Angelo then via guest shots on albums by Erykah Badu, Common, and the Red Hot AIDS awareness organization (Red Hot + Riot). Hargrove made his own musical mark on this world with The RH Factor: Hard Groove. He last appeared at the Bowl in 2003.
Universally regarded as one of the greatest jazz vibraphonists of all time, BOBBY HUTCHERSON redefined the technical and emotional possibilities of his instrument as one of the key members of Blue Note Records' legendary 1960s roster. As both a leader and sideman, he went on to influence virtually every vibraphonist to come after him, and he remains one of jazz's most respected and in-demand artists today.
Perhaps the most acclaimed acoustic and electric bassist to emerge from the jazz world in the 1990s, Philadelphia native CHRISTIAN MCBRIDE has worked across the musical spectrum with artists such as Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Kathleen Battle, D'Angelo, Diana Krall, Bruce Hornsby, Quincy Jones, and Sting. He got his major break after one year at Juilliard, joining trumpeter Roy Hargrove's first band. That stint led to collaborations with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard's band, the Benny Green Trio, and the legendary Ray Brown.
In addition to numerous solo recordings and several commissioned works, McBride is featured on more than 200 recordings and has toured and/or recorded with Chick Corea, David Sanborn, George Duke, McCoy Tyner, Bobby Hutcherson, Chaka Khan, Joe Henderson, Betty Carter, Abbey Lincoln, Milt Jackson, Peabo Bryson, Natalie Cole, George Benson, Benny Golson, Johnny Griffin, and Isaac Hayes. McBride also graced the big screen playing his bass in director Robert Altman's film, Kansas City, as well as performing on the film's two soundtracks.
One of the most in-demand percussionists today, AIRTO MOREIRA, who works closely with his wife, singer Flora Purim, began his career in Brazil, studying guitar, piano, and more than 100 different percussion instruments. A founding member of Weather Report, he has worked closely with some of the most seminal figures in jazz, including Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, Cannonball Adderley, Paul Desmond, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, and Joe Zawinul. It was Zawinul who introduced Airto to Miles Davis for a recording session in the 1970s that culminated in Davis' landmark album, Bitches Brew.
Airto's unique touch has been sought out by such artists as Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, George Duke, Paul Simon, Carlos Santana, Gil Evans, Gato Barbieri, and Michael Brecker. In recent years he has explored the classical and pop worlds as well: He appeared as guest soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for a PBS special and with the Smashing Pumpkins on MTV Unplugged, and he can be heard on the Depeche Mode CD Exciter.