Duke Pearson's Big Band: 1967 - JazzWax

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April 22, 2010


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Steve Provizer

Nice arrangement and beautiful trumpet solo (Collins?). I did find it odd that the band was mixed so hot in relation to the soloist when they start riffing behind the solo in the last half-chorus or so.

Michael Seiwert

Great feature of one of my favorite pianists. Didn't knew his big band music yet. I just bought "Introducing Duke Pearson's Big Band" online at amazon.de. Wonderful music! Thanks for the heads up!

Bruce Armstrong

Yes, that's Burt Collins doing the great trumpet solo on "New Girl." This band really deserved more recognition than it received. Musicians knew about it. The band didn't travel and it really had no home base in NYC like the Mel Lewis-Thad Jones band had at the Vanguard, so the general jazz public never really had a chance to warm up to it.

Steve Provizer

Burt Collins is kind of an analogue for the band as a whole. A great player, he could play lead and solo, yet not well-known (even within the jazz community).

Bill Kirchner

"Straight Up and Down" is one of Chick Corea's best early tunes. Duke also did an octet arrangement of it (and also Chick's "Tones for Joan's Bones") for Blue Mitchell's BOSS HORN album (Blue Note, 1966).

It's worth noting that Duke in the late '60s assumed an important role at Blue Note as a producer, both before and after the label's sale to Liberty Records. This is no doubt how he managed to get two albums done for Blue Note of his own big band.

Nobody ever talks about this, but Gary McFarland, Oliver Nelson, Don Ellis, and Duke Pearson all died young between 1971 and 1980. A collective blow for jazz composing-arranging that the music has felt ever since.

I had the good fortune of recording on several occasions with the late Burt Collins and his frequent partner, trumpeter Joe Shepley--both consummate pros. Burt and Joe did two underappreciated albums in 1969-70 (under the name Collins-Shepley Galaxy) with an 11-piece band and great arrangements by Mike Abene. The albums have never made it to CD, alas.

don frese

Thanks for the nice appreciation for an overlooked artist, band and tune. New Girl is one of the most joyous anthems of the late post-bop years, whose riff would make Tadd Dameron smile, and a personal favorite for many years. There is also a fine small group version on Pearson's Atlantic date, Honeybuns, with good solos by Johnny Coles and George Coleman.


The post from Steve Provizer sums it up for me.Duke Pearson did have an important role at Blue Note.But nobody ever talks about this ! As producer,arranger,and artist -Pearson lent his talents to many classic Blue Note sessions.Although he died young like Oliver Nelson,Gary McFarland,and Don Ellis.Pearon left us with a wealth of material that most dont know that he wrote.Lets give credit,where credit is due.And lets put Pearson and his music in the history books more than where it is now.He deserves more recognition than this.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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