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Duke Pearson


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Born Columbus Calvin Pearson, Jr. in Atlanta, Georgia, Pearson first studied brass instruments at the early age of five, but dental issues forced him to pursue another instrument and he started to learn the piano. His budding talent moved his uncle to give him the nickname Duke, a reference to jazz legend Duke Ellington.[1] He attended Clark College while also playing trumpet in groups in the Atlanta area before joining the United States Army in the early 1950s. [2] Pearson continued to perform with different ensembles in Georgia and Florida, including with Tab Smith and Little Willie John, before he moved to New York, New York in January of 1959. After moving to New York, Pearson gained the attention of Donald Byrd who saw Pearson performing with the the Art Farmer/Benny Golson Sextet (also known as Jazztet). Shortly afterwards, Byrd asked him to join his newly formed band, the Donald Byrd-Pepper Adams Quintet. Pearson was also the accompanist for Nancy Wilson on tour in 1961. During that same year, Pearson became ill before a Byrd-Adams show when and a newcomer named Herbie Hancock took over for him. This eventually led to Hancock taking over the position permanently.[2]

On the 1963 Byrd album A New Perspective, Pearson arranged four tracks, including “Cristo Redentor”, which became a big hit. The song, Pearson later commented, was inspired by a trip he took to Brazil while touring with Wilson.[2] Also that year, after the death of Ike Quebec, Pearson took over his position as A&R man of Blue Note.


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  • axefreeze

    i would recommend his trio albums in blue note and polydor. so tender, so sentimental.. he really plays them in a wynton kelly way with his own composing talents.

    26 Mar 4:00am Reply
  • WasNotWhyNot

    david mitchell, you have a good taste in music. or you dad does. or wherever the cycle started. I'll keep it going.

    6 Dec 2012 Reply
  • ivinhav

    so chic. perfect!

    24 Jan 2012 Reply
  • MsGreenEyes

    Phantom is SO FINE

    12 Aug 2011 Reply
  • supervixenno1

    i love this so much.....

    9 Mar 2010 Reply
  • flapslangly

    My first recommendation from - like striking oil in your first shovelful of dirt! Lovely

    22 Oct 2009 Reply
  • Mentink

    Too bad it is hard to find his records back here in the Netherlands

    5 Oct 2009 Reply
  • peeanolover

    i don't think he is God but he surely is good

    22 Apr 2008 Reply
  • javiwer

    Duke is God

    11 Feb 2008 Reply

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