In 1973, I was a year out of high school, working for a discount “cut-out” record distributor in New York when I came across an LP in the returns department called Introducing The Duke Pearson Big Band. Although I did not know who Duke Pearson was, I noticed that the record was on the prestigious Blue Note label, and that among the musicians listed were Randy Brecker, Bob Cranshaw and Mickey Roker, who were all on my favorite jazz record at the time, Horace Silver’s In Pursuit Of The 27th Man.
I took the record home and it immediately became one of my favorite discs. It wasn’t my father’s big band music (Benny Goodman, Glen Miller et al) and it seemed very contemporary, vital and pretty rockin’ to a nineteen year old kid.
Cut to the internet age, and I was able to find out a lot more about Duke Pearson and his music. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia on August 17, 1932 and attended Clark College there. After college, he joined the service and worked with R&B performer Little Willie John. Duke came to New York in January of 1959 and started working with Donald Byrd and Pepper Adams. He was a pianist, band leader, producer, arranger and a prolific composer. Duke worked as an A&R man for Blue Note from 1963 to 1971. Upon sale of the label he moved back to Atlanta and taught at his alma mater until1973. Duke suffered from multiple sclerosis and died in 1980 at the Atlanta Veteran’s Hospital.
For some time, Swingadelic has had a residency at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, NJ, where we play as an eleven piece “little big band”. I asked our tenor player and main arranger, Paul Carlon to put together a few Duke Pearson tunes for the band. Big Bertha and Cristo Redentor were enjoyed by both band and audience alike, so I asked Paul to do a few more and decided to arrange a few myself. Upon mentioning the thought of putting together a Duke Pearson tribute disc the rest of the band caught the fervor, and Rob Susman, Rob Edwards and Audrey Welber each contributed an arrangement.
This CD is dedicated to Buddy Terry, who played alto & tenor sax and sang with Swingadelic from 2000-2009 and is now recovering from a stroke. Besides working with the Ray Charles and Count Basie Orchestras, and Horace Silver and Art Blakey, Buddy played in the Duke Pearson Big Band back in the 70’s, often subbing for Frank Foster. With this music we send him our love….
Mississippi Dip Arranged by Paul Carlon. A catchy boogaloo number from the 1967 Blue Note LP, Introducing The Duke Pearson Big Band. This was one of the first big bands I recall hearing which combined elements of rock and Latin music along with more straight-ahead swinging fare. Here we add a little “southern soul” slide guitar.
Chili Peppers Arranged by Dave Post. From the 1967 Blue Note LP, The Right Touch. There was a great line-up along with Duke on this record with Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Turrentine, James Spaulding, Jerry Dodgion, Garnett Brown, Gene Taylor and Grady Tate.
Cristo Redentor Arranged by Paul Carlon. Named after the famed statue of Christ in Corcovado, this was Duke’s biggest and most recorded “hit”. Tim Warfield, David “Fathead” Newman, bluesmen Ronnie Earl and Harvey Mandel have all recorded it, but the definitive and most popular version is from Donald Byrd’s 1963 Blue Note record A New Perspective. Cristo Redentor was used in the film A Bronx Tale, and in the show Sideman.
Jeannine Arranged by Rob Edwards. Probably Duke’s best known tune that has become an iconic jazz standard. This is from the Bag’s Groove album on Black Saint. Many artists have covered this, including Cannonball Adderly, Donald Byrd, Wes Montgomery, Gene Harris and Mel Rhyne, among others.
Big Bertha Arranged by Paul Carlon. This tune has been covered by Vincent Herring, Carl Allen and by Harris Moran Osby Shin. From Duke’s Sweet Honey Bee record.
Sweet Honey Bee Arranged by Dave Post. This is from the 1966 Blue Note LP of the same name. This was also recorded by Lee Morgan on his Charisma record.
Duke’s Mixture Arranged by Dave Post. A shuffle that Duke wrote, produced, and played piano on for Donald Byrd’s 1961 Blue Note LP The Cat Walk.
Sudel Arranged by Paul Carlon. Another track from the Sweet Honey Bee album, also recorded by Donald Byrd on Groovin’ For Nat. In a recent edition of All About Jazz, the drummer on the original track, Mickey Roker, states that it is his favorite track to listen to of the many he has recorded.
Ready Rudy Arranged by Audrey Welber. The Rudy mentioned in the title is most assuredly Rudy Van Gelder, in whose Englewood NJ studio thousands of classic jazz recordings were made from the 50s to the present. Yet another track off of Sweet Honey Bee, this has also been recorded by Mike LeDonne on his Feeling Of Jazz disc.
New Time Shuffle Arranged by Rob Susman. This tune was written by pianist Joe Sample of the Jazz Crusaders, who also has a recording of it. It was one of Duke’s favorites. He arranged and produced it on Stanley Turrentine’s New Time Shuffle LP and included it on Introducing The Duke Pearson Big Band. Dave Post
Produced by Dave Post. Recorded at Kaleidoscope Studios in Union City NJ by Sal Mormando. Mixed at Harariville in Hoboken NJ by Rob Harari. Mastered at Columbia Studios, NYC by Maria Triana. Package Design: Jack Frisch. Executive producer: Joachim “Jochen” Becker.
Swingadelic bookings : Dave Post MediaMixEnt@aol.com For information on Swingadelic and their other CD releases and upcoming dates please go to www.swingadelic.com or www.facebook.com/swingadelic