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"Serious black orchestral writers don't often have the opportunity to have their works performed, so I realise I was blessed to have this chance.Besides, I've always liked breaking down barriers," he remarked. I grew up listening to all kinds of music, and I didn't see why I should be kept in a box musically.In attendance were Frank Zappa, Quincy Jones and Cannonball Adderley," he recalled of the groundbreaking jazz-fusion recording that preceded the emergence of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report on the East Coast.Zappa hired Duke for two spells, interrupted by a couple of years during which he toured with Adderley.Duke thrived with Zappa, building up confidence as a vocalist, even if he never considered himself a "proper singer", and taking up the synthesizer after the guitarist bought an ARP 2600 and presented it to him as a fait accompli. Not only that, but you were limited to one note at a time.
He died from chronic lymphocytic leukemia in Los Angeles."I really think it is possible to make good music and be commercial at the same time," he wrote on his website.He also helped to popularise the keytar – a light, portable keyboard, which he strapped on to venture centre-stage during his shows.On the 40-plus, occasionally self-indulgent but mostly engaging and excellent albums he recorded under his own name, or in partnership with other jazz-fusion stalwarts, Duke collaborated with the drummers Billy Cobham and Alphonse Mouzon and the guitarist John Scofield.It was recorded in Rio de Janeiro in 1979 with the vocalists Milton Nascimento and Flora Purim and the percussionist Airto Moreira.The versatile and prolific Duke was also a mainstay of the Montreux Jazz Festival, where he performed over a dozen times and debuted his ambitious Muir Woods Suite for orchestra and small jazz band – subsequently released in 1995.