Freddie Hubbard (trumpet) Garnett Brown (trombone) James Spaulding (alto saxophone) Jerry Dodgion (alto saxophone, flute) Stanley Turrentine (tenor saxophone) Duke Pearson (piano) Gene Taylor (bass) Grady Tate (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, September 13, 1967
Following the death of Ike Quebec in 1963 through to 1971, Duke Pearson was Head of A&R for Blue Note Records, surviving the seismic transition from the Alfred Lion years to Liberty Records management and the power-struggles of early years of United Artists ownership, all the time against a background of shifting music tides. For that at least we should be grateful for the many excellent second-wave of Blue Note releases.
The mid to late ’60 found Duke Pearson leading some terrifically catchy swinging albums, Wahoo, Sweet Honey Bee, and The Phantom, and this one, The Right Touch, tucked well into the Liberty Records era. A rich brass ensemble with Hubbard and Turrentine is motored along by the trademark rhythm engine of Grady Tate, as the project unashamedly searches out more Sidewinder-like hit tunes.
As a pianist Pearson can flow beautifully, as his solo on Grant Green’s epic Idle Moments attests. Equally he holds his own bop place on the great Donald Byrd albums for Blue Note – A New Perspective, Fuego, At the Half Note Café, and Byrd in Flight. Moving effortlessly from bop to pop-jazz arrangements and big band, Pearson certainly had “the right touch”,
A talented composer, arranger, band-leader, lyrical front-line pianist, and latterly, educator, Pearson struggled with debilitating effects of MS, reaching his end in 1980, but leaving behind rich and varied musical legacy.
Vinyl: Blue NoteBNST 84267, Liberty UA black/light blue label, VAN GELDER master reissue.
With the exception of the odd fake stereo, these black/ light blue label Liberty/ UA pressings are generally a delight. Not quite up to the Blue Note Plastylite mark, they are nevertheless a very affordable alternative , and for post-1966 watershed releases, there is no Plastylite – its Liberty only. The Liberty/UA reissues I find an acceptable alternative to Division of Liberty.
I blundered into this one early in my collecting career, but six years later I don’t have cause to regret it. I still subscribe to the “If you see it, buy it, you never know if you will see it again“. For every time it lets me down, it’s a winner many times over.
There is plenty of time to discover, rediscover, or even tire of musical choices. Right now, you have no idea what you will like in a few years time, but acquisition opportunities are limited to the here and now.
I should have taken my own advice, as I underbid on a Blue Note this evening. The winner was a psychopath who had made 597 bids on records in the last 30 days. I made six. Hope he enjoys it. I would have.