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That Doug Duke Sound

“Impossible!   It can’t be done!”  So said the critics.  But Doug Duke did it.  He took a little Hammond M-3 spinet organ, tore it apart, rebuilt it “to open its throat,” and when he had finally finished revamping its circuitry, his little spinet barely resembled the original M-3.   “Baby Bear” was born.  It had a bright, brisk voice and a crisp, clean keyboard action which was quick to respond to Doug’s ever changing moods.  There were no multiple tracks, no echo chambers and no gimmicks in any of his recordings but, oh, what a sound!  

That Doug Duke sound was born out of Doug’s desire to create a total orchestral presence with a single instrument.  The influence of the great theater organist, George Wright and pianist/composer/band leader, George Shearing is unmistakable.  As a child Mr. Duke studied piano, pipe organ, bassoon and trumpet.  The organ and piano were his favorites but clearly he was already demonstrating a preference for orchestral music. 

Listen!  All that sound can’t possibly be coming from a single pair of hands - piano, bass, drums, woodwinds and horns – it’s all there. Fingers darting across the keyboards like bolts of lightening, feet dancing over the pedals, a mushroom cloud of music pouring out of that little instrument like thunder and soft rain; this is the essence of that Doug Duke sound.   

Thanks to the legacy of Walter Dixon’s audiotapes you, too, can now experience that Doug Duke sound as it has never been heard before.

Coming soon: Audio and video clips illustrating in detail how Douglas Duke created his impossible sound.