George Duke was Catalyst for Solo Career, Says Osborne

Jazz Masters: Jeffrey Osborne, Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones appear at the Playboy Jazz Festival pre-media event. Photo Credit: Dennis J. Freeman
Jazz Masters: Jeffrey Osborne (left), Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones appear at the Playboy Jazz Festival pre-media event. Photo Credit: Dennis J. Freeman

Singer Jeffrey Osborne has to be heartbroken today. Osborne and the rest of the world lost one of the great musical maestros of this generation when George Duke passed away from leukemia. For the music industry, it is a big blow. Music fans lost an icon.

Osborne lost a lot more. Duke left a lasting imprint on artists such as Stanley Clarke, Rachelle Ferrell, Denise Williams, Al Jarreau, Barry Manilow and Gladys Knight among others. He worked and collaborated with Osborne on the R&B crooner’s projects early in his solo career after he left the band L.T.D.

During the Playboy Jazz Festival’s meet-and-greet event with the media prior to the Father’s Day weekend show this past June, Osborne was excited talking about working with Duke again on his latest CD, “A Time for Love.”

Making the transition from singing lead on hit songs like “Love Ballad” and Where Did We Go Wrong,” to delivering the same type impact songs as a soloist has been made easier by collaborating and working with talented music producers.

Duke played a major part in that success, including being heavily instrumental on Osborne’s jazz album.

“With R&B, you can float around and sing all these licks and everything, but this kind of a record I wanted to stick strictly to the melody,” Osborne told “The melody is so beautiful. You don’t have to do anything. You can over sing the record, and I didn’t want to over sing this record, so I stuck to the melody.

“I had a great guy behind me producing me in George Duke. It’s a beautiful thing when you can fit your voice in the middle of his orchestration…it’s a win-win situation there.”

Just a year removed from losing his wife to cancer, Duke put out his last production (DreamWeaver) to honor his late wife Corine on July 16. Duke had a plethora of hit records, including the commercially successful “No Ryhme, No Reason.”

Osborne regrets that he didn’t continue working with Duke.

“He produced my first three solo albums, so we have an incredible relationship,” Osborne said. “I don’t know why I got away from him, but it was one of the record company decisions; you made three records with George, let’s to move in another direction.

“It was the worst mistake I’ve ever made. So finally I got a chance to get back with him and this is his roots, too. It was great for us to come together to make this record. “


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