Today's Articles

People, Locations, Episodes

Wed, 08.17.1932

Duke Pearson Jr., Pianist, and Composer born

Duke Pearson Jr.

*Duke Pearson Jr. was born on this date in 1932. He was a Black jazz pianist and composer.

Pearson was born Columbus Calvin Pearson Jr. in Atlanta, Georgia. His parents were Columbus Calvin and Emily Pearson. Before he was six, his mother started giving him piano lessons. He studied the instrument until he was twelve when he took an interest in brass instruments: mellophone, baritone horn, and trumpet. He attended Clark College while also playing trumpet in groups in the Atlanta area.

While in the U.S. Army, Pearson moved to New York City in January 1959. He had, however, been able to get at least one song, "Tribute to Brownie" (dedicated to Clifford Brown), recorded by the Cannonball Adderley Quintet on their 1957 album, Sophisticated Swing. In New York, Pearson gained the attention of the trumpeter Donald Byrd, who saw Pearson performing with the Art Farmer/Benny Golson Sextet. Shortly afterward, Byrd asked Pearson 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, and a newcomer, Herbie Hancock, took over for him. Hancock eventually took over the position permanently. Pearson arranged four tracks on the 1963 Donald Byrd album A New Perspective. Also, that year, he took over his position as A&R man of Blue Note. From that year until 1970, Pearson was a frequent session musician and producer for numerous Blue Note albums while also recording his albums as a bandleader. This role was odd since Pearson also recorded with his co-led big band with Byrd for Atlantic Records, a stipulation he ensured was in his Atlantic contract.

The Byrd-Pearson band consisted of musicians such as Chick Corea, Pepper Adams, Randy Brecker, and Garnett Brown; they played at The Village Vanguard. Pearson's compositions include the now standard, frequently covered "Jeannine," composed c. 1960. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the 1970s. Pearson eventually retired from his position with Blue Note in 1971 after personnel changes were made; co-founder Alfred Lion retired in 1967 after the label was sold to Liberty Records the previous year, and co-founder Francis Wolff died in 1971. Pearson opted to teach at Clark College in 1971, toured with Carmen McRae and Joe Williams through 1973, and eventually re-formed his big band. Duke Pearson Jr. died at Atlanta Veterans Hospital on August 4, 1980.

To Become a musician or Singer
To Become a Conductor or Composer

New Poem Each Day

Poetry Corner

these hips are big hips they need space to move around in. they don't fit into little petty places. these hips are free hips. they don't like to be... HOMAGE TO MY HIPS by Lucille Clifton
Read More