Duke Pearson: Profile (1959) Blue Note

Selection: Taboo (to sooth your furrowed brow as the mystery unfolds)

.  .  .


Duke Pearson, piano; Gene Taylor, bass; Lex Humphries, drums. Recorded Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, October 25, 1959


Columbus Calvin “Duke” Pearson Jr.’s debut album, “Profile”, launched his career as pianist, composer, arranger, and following the death of Ike Quebec,  A&R man and frequent producer of Blue Note records, up until 1971, .

Duke’s playing owes much to Wynton Kelly, as probably many in his day, but with more lyrical emphasis than rhythmic. The tune are standards mixed with some of his own compositions, the presentation is conventional piano with supporting rhythm section, nothing ground-breaking, but attractive, often very pretty reading of the songs. Pearson’s talent is showcased in more complex line-ups with his later albums like “Wahoo”, “Sweet Honey Bee” and “The Phantom”. Nevertheless, Profile remains a highly collectable album.

Pearson relinquished his management role with Blue Note on the entry of United Artists. However he was diagnosed with MS, and finally left the stage, in 1980, at the age of only 47.

Vinyl: Division of United Artists (early ’70s) 

One of the early 70’s “undocumented” Division of United Artists facsimile Blue Note series. ( Cuscuna/Ruppli Blue Note Discography make no mention) Most of this series are mono, a handful ill-judged hard-panning stereo. The covers and labels are careful reproduction of the original, aside from the corporate identity of United Artists on the label. The United Artists engineer initials: NB.

Collector’s Corner

My copy of 4022 is a straight early ’70s Division of United Artists Blue Note reissue, no mystery about that. However it is a segue to a real mystery, sent to me by a reader, Brad.

Brad has a copy of 4022 which has the chronologically impossible  feature of an RVG stamp one side, and VAN GELDER   on the other, original 47 West 63rd labels, but no ear. In short, a split-personality Van Gogh!

Discogs has no such entry for a Liberty issue, however the mystery surfaced obliquely a few years ago, courtesy of our friends at Jazzcollector (You will recognise some of the commenters, Joe L, Andy and Rich DG mono, stand up, take a bow, 2013, a good vintage.)

Brad sent me pictures of his labels of 4022, 47 West 63rd’s. The mere sight of W. 63 labels (in use 1957-61) has been known to send collectors into a delirium, checking the available balance on their credit cards.






and the back cover, ostensibly the real deal, catalogue number in large friendly letters at top right, and send for – 43 West 61st address – at the foot (Profile was the first title to carry this new and long-running address)












He spelled out the particulars thus:

Side 1 etching:  BNLP-4022 A-1   VAN GELDER (stamped)
Side 2 etching:  BNLP-4022 B   RVG (stamped)
Lacking the “P” etching on either side.
Labels have the 47 West 63rd NYC address on both sides.  Blue Note Records Inc.
“R” under the E on labels.
Inner sleeve is advertisement for “27 years of blue note”
Back cover has 43 West 61st St. address at the bottom.
Vinyl weight seems to be around 162 grams.

LJC Acting Vinyl Sleuth responds (but first, a little more music)

Selection 2: I’m Glad There Is You

.  .  .

To begin, let’s have a quick look at the original 1960 release labels of 4022, (courtesy of Discogs). Note deep groove both sides. I’ve overexposed the runout in the label pictures. Side 1 bottom left you can just make out an RVG stamp. Remember that, it’s important.


.  .  .

Elementary!  The key to all this is the Side 1 matrix suffix  A -1

When this recording was first mastered by Van Gelder, in late 1959, his stamp was RVG. The record was released in February 1960 .  The original pressing would be RVG stamp both sides . The VAN GELDER stamp did not appear until over two years later, in Spring 1962.

For reasons that are not known, Van Gelder re-mastered Side A, (possibly both sides), at some point after Spring 1962 and any time up to July 1966, during which time the VAN GELDER stamp was in use. We know at least Side A was re-mastered because of the -1 suffix, which was how Rudy annotated a subsequent matrix to keep track of versions – original mastering, 1st re-master (A-1), even 2nd re-master has been seen (A-2).

Possibly Rudy wasn’t happy with the original master, possibly it was accidentally damaged, perhaps a repressing was planned, but never happened. Though Van Gelder will have recorded the session to two-track tape, he never got around to making a stereo master either, which was first issued in stereo by the Japanese decades later.

In mid 1966, Blue Note Records was sold to Liberty, who set about reissuing the Blue Note catalogue to help monetise their asset.  Liberty acquired most if not all Rudy’s metal-work, and stocks of  previously printed labels and covers in the company inventory. Importantly, Liberty also acquired  a large quantity of the last printed inner sleeve, “27 Years”, which they used up as inner sleeve in their first wave of reissues, before printing their own Liberty inner sleeve.

Up to this point in time, there had not been any further pressing of 4022. Therefore what was available for the Liberty re-issue was the old stock of original 47 West 63rd mono labels, and  the old stock of original 4022 covers (large catalogue number top right), which were teamed up with the last printed inner sleeve, “27 years”.

All-Disc Roselle NJhad been tasked with these early Liberty repressings, hence the absence of the Plastylite ear. When it came to metal-work, Liberty had access to Van Gelder’s acetate/mothers/stampers, which included an unused  re-mastering of 4022 Side 1.   All-Disc chose to use Rudy’s later re-master 4022 A-1  metal for Side 1, with its VAN GELDER stamp, and the original master, with its’ RVG stamp, for Side 2

It’s an odd one, but the way this story fits together is the only plausible explanation. Many of the essential details, such as the Van Gelder stamps and matrix codes,  were omitted in the examination of the record for sale back in 2013.

Mysteries solved while you wait.

However, 21 bidders back in 2013 fell for the completely accurate description “original W. 63rd label”, which of course they were, original W. 63rd labels, just not attached to an original  1960 issued record.

Goodness! $777. Not bad for a Liberty pressing, with an “original W. 6rd label” – worthy of Moriarty.  It’s a trick worth remembering – original labels, just not stuck on an original pressing.

9 thoughts on “Duke Pearson: Profile (1959) Blue Note

  1. I have the same pressing as your reader. Van Gelder on 1 side and RVG on the other. I was always under the impression it was a BN Mono re-press although it does beg the question why it was not issued on stereo and why re-press this album. As amazing as it is I don’t believe it was a top seller. At least I paid nowhere near $700 for mine.


  2. I own the UA version of this and I must say after playing it again ( last time must have been 20 years ago when I was on a Blue Note kick) this is one of those albums that is collectable for all the reasons stated above but would never select to play as it is just above cocktail music for me. I also disagree with your comparison to Wynton Kelly , far more in the Red Garland mode . Anyway it is good to find albums in my collection that still need culling , thanks for bringing to my attention.


      • As far as I’m aware, Duke’s favourite pianist was Hank Jones – another tremendous pianist too often dismissed as a lightweight. I love them both (and much prefer their playing to Red Garland’s locked hands style).

        But I agree that the later recordings are a better showcase of his writing and arranging skills – in particular, Wahoo and Donald Byrd’s Kofi spring to mind. Wonderful stuff.


        • Aha, Kofi, that’s a record I haven’t played in a long while, must refresh my memory of it.

          There is a large cohort of what some might unkindly call “second tier” pianists, that is, the tier below the gods Evans, Powell, Hancock and Monk, perhaps also McCoy Tyner and Horace Silver? (That should send a few folk typing furiously).

          In that class, Junior Mance is a personal favourite, along with Horace Parlan, and Francy Boland (surprise there) . Any other nominations, fire away, I’ll keep my head down.


  3. These early Liberty reissues are fascinating. I have four of them, Hank Mobley’s ‘Workout,” Art Taylor’s “A.T.’s Delight,” Paul Chambers “Whims of Chambers” and Sonny Clark Trio, all earless with original stock labels (I did not pay too much attention to the etchings, I’ll have to check at home). The latter two were from unplayed stock, still in shrink. I took the shrink off (as should be done always), and the jackets are laminated and brand new. Near Mint or Mint. Now what I’m wondering is, are these jackets actual unused leftovers from the original pressing runs? It’s hard to tell, they are in such immaculate condition, it would be easy to mistake them for Classic Records reissue jackets if I didn’t know better. Although I do own many original pressings of the 1500 and 4000 series, none of the jackets are in similarly good condition, which makes it hard to compare. So are these jackets in fact leftover stock, which would give us an indication of what a brand new copy of an original Blue Note looked like when purchased in 1957, or were these printed specifically or the early Liberty reissues in an attempt to make them more authentic? I doubt the latter, because I don’t think Liberty was concerned with that and in 1966 there was little awareness of the collectibility of original pressings that we have today. And why were they in shrink? They weren’t originally issued in shrink, so it must have been done in 1966, but how is it possible that the jackets remained in such pristine condition while in storage for over a decade? Either way, it’s an interesting question for sure.


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