Duke Pearson: The Right Touch (1967) Liberty/UA

Duke-Pearson-The-Right-Touch-cover-1800-LJC Selection: Chilli Pepper (320kbps MP3)


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.

Pearson OG

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.

Duke-Pearson-The-Right-Touch-labels-1800-LJC Duke-Pearson-The-Right-Touch-rearcover-1800-LJC Collector’s Corner 

LJC Thinks some moreIt is a feature of a “record collecting” that  buying opportunities do not synchronise with listening priorities.

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.

21 thoughts on “Duke Pearson: The Right Touch (1967) Liberty/UA

  1. Thank you for the information that some “Liberty” pressings have excellent sound quality. I do not yet have a mono setup and am limited to stereo pressings, which are difficult, and in some cases impossible, to find as “Blue Note” first pressings. I’m stuck with the high cost of changing the arm wand on my VPI Scout turntable, in order to be able to swap in a mono cartridge.

    I read your excellent article on how to set up a mono circuit for a stereo cartridge. But I still wonder if my “Soundsmith” contact Line diamond stylus would function correctly with those original wide groove mono pressings. Perhaps one day, I will be able to hear one of those excellent “Blue Note” mono first pressings. At the rate they’re appreciating in price, I’ve partially given up hope that I would ever be able to afford one.


  2. Been a fan of his work for longtime – have several CD/LP issues of “introducing” for example. Both the Black label and Blue/white sound excellent BTW. This particular LP can still be found at very reasonable prices. The hard to find CD combines the1967 Introducing session with the 1968 Now hear this session which is equally great IMHO. THe Now hear this LP has a terrible LP cover though – must be a all time low for Blue Note 😉


  3. Well spotted upthread: Pearson’s arranging contributions to “Little Johnny C”, and “A Slice of the Top”.

    Another great Duke Pearson BN title: “Introducing Duke Pearson’s Big Band”.

    And a bit of a rara avis, http://www.allmusic.com/album/release/dedication!-mr0000341930, again featuring Pearson’s great arranging skills (originally the maiden date for trombonist Willie Wilson, who sadly died within a year of the recording date)


    • Just picked up ‘Introducing’ in stereo on Van Gelder stamped Liberty. Had sat in my LRS bins for ages and I repeatedly passed on it even though it was just a tenner. Yesterday I adopted it and was amazed at just how sparkly and cohesive the playing is – in the same way as the track sampled here. And what a lineup – always glad to see Frank Foster’s beefy tenor on the roster.


  4. A great LP. My introduction to Duke Pearson was with a reissue (Classic records 200g) of Tender Feelin’s and the album was a bit too slow/subdued for me at the time. I will have to revisit now to see if my mind’s changed.

    A dumb question, but how do I check to see how many bids I’ve made in 30 days? I can see how to do it with other users in bid history. But clicking my own name takes me to my profile.


    • To access your own bid history (as others will see you) –
      Open two browsers; in the first, log into your ebay account and go to anything in your recent purchase history, open up the item, copy the url to clipboard.
      Now go to the second browser and go to Ebay WITHOUT logging in. Paste the url into the second browser, which will bring up the item you won but with your identity anonymised. Click on Click on that and it will open up your bid history and profile.
      Err … simples.


    • Ken
      Thanks for providing a calming oasis in the midst of one of those days where I decided to go to too many places in Manhattan as I only had 24 hours in the city.
      I’ll be back, as someone once said!


  5. Love this album & the other Pearson albums mentioned, all of them crucial in my book.
    Had the west coast Liberty/UA pressing as well, lately replaced with a Toshiba copy with great results – the Toshiba sounds noticeably better & wasn’t expensive at all.


  6. One of my favorite BN LP’s is Hank Mobley’s A Slice of the Top. When listening to it, it is inconceivable that it sat in the vaults until Cuscuna discovered and released it in the 80’s. Slice is a similar line up with regard to instruments (euphonium instead of trombone) as The Right Touch. Duke Pearson wrote all the charts for Slice from sketches done by Hank Mobley when Mobley was incarcerated on a narcotics charge in the mid 1960’s. The point is that Pearson was a terrific arranger and really knew how to put a solid, rhythmic and instrumental foundation down that Mobley, Morgan, and Spaulding could blow over. I will need to find a copy of The Right Touch too!


  7. Yet another interesting post. It’s great to go through a collection and rediscover albums that were put to one side and to listen to them with new ears- although for many of us the working week probably gets in the way quite a bit. I’m not that familiar with Duke Pearson, although I sought out a Japanese reissue of Donald Byrd’s ‘The Cat Walk’ in the early ’90s after Gilles Peterson played a track on one of his shows. Must find and listen to some more.


  8. LJC brilliant choice, an absolute phenomenal record, Duke in top form.
    This came in blue and white Liberty first and also as a mono radio station promo – apologies for doing that ‘it’s not the original’ thing.
    On another note I was in the Jazz Record Center in NYC last weekend buying the Cohen book and an In A Silent Way first press, and as soon as they realised I was from London, the man behind the counter immediately started praising the LJC Blog.


      • I don’t think it was. A very nice chap, who had once been a London regular writing about drum and bass, and buying cigars in Shaftesbury Avenue.
        The book is great, and the pictures of RVG engraving tools / stampers made me very happy (I do understand that this is probably a certified psychiatric condition!).


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