Night Lights Classic Jazz

The Duke Pearson Songbook

Duke Pearson was a pianist, composer, and arranger who helped craft the sound of many of the Blue Note label's classic mid-1960s releases.

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Photo of jazz pianist and composer Duke Pearson

Photo: Unknown

The right touch: Duke Pearson at the piano.

Duke Pearson was a pianist, composer, and arranger who helped craft the sound of many of the Blue Note label’s classic mid-1960s releases. He had a gift for writing quickly and coming up with memorable melodies that could be bright, poignant, or Sidewinder-style funky; several of his compositions, such as “Jeannine” and “Cristo Redentor,” have become jazz standards.

“The Duke Pearson Songbook” features recordings of his music by Grant Green, Joe Henderson, Big John Patton, Donald Byrd, and Pearson himself, including one number by his late-1960s big band. (A future program will explore that band at greater length, featuring interview clips from Pearson himself.)

You can view Pearson’s musical history online at the Jazz Discography site.

Music Heard On This Episode

Sweet Honey Bee
Duke Pearson — Sweet Honey Bee (Blue Note, 1967)
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Sweet Honey Bee
Duke Pearson — Sweet Honey Bee (Blue Note, 1967)

Notes: With Freddie Hubbard on trumpet and Joe Henderson on tenor sax.

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Amanda
Big John Patton — Got a Good Thing Goin' (Blue Note, 1966)

Notes: With Grant Green on guitar.

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You Know I Care
Joe Henderson — Inner Urge (Blue Note, 1964)

Notes: With McCoy Tyner on piano, Bob Cranshaw on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums.

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Jeannine
Oscar Brown Jr. — Tells It Like It Is/In a New Mood (Columbia/Collectables, 1963)

Notes: Lyrics by Brown, music by Duke Pearson.

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Cristo Redentor
Donald Byrd — A New Perspective (Blue Note, 1963)
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Gaslight
Duke Pearson — Sweet Honey Bee (Blue Note, 1967)

Notes: Midpoint music bed.

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New Girl
Duke Pearson — Introducing Duke Pearson's Big Band (Blue Note, 1967)
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Say You're Mine
Donald Byrd/Pepper Adams — The Cat Walk (Blue Note, 1961)
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Nomad
Grant Green — Idle Moments (Blue Note, 1963)
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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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  • http://yahoo.com G.Ford

    Hello Mr.Johnson,

    Would like to take a look at the Duke Pearson interview you speak about above.Could you please give me more information about when and where.

    Thanks/A Huge Duke Pearson Fan

  • http://indianapublicmedia.org/nightlights/ David Brent Johnson

    The interview was done by Canadian jazz DJ Ted O’Reilly on Oct. 15, 1970; some of it is quoted in the following article:

    Ted O’Reilly: Duke Pearson Talks, in: Coda, 9/10 (Nov/Dec.1970), p. 44-46

    I hope to do that “future program” very soon.

  • http://yahoo.com G.Ford

    OK David,

    Thanks.But I think I have that article from coda of 1970 packed away somewhere.Will be loking-out for the future program.

    G.Ford/Nephew of the late Duke Pearson

  • http://yahoo.com/ G.Ford

    Hello Mr.Johnson,

    Would like to take a look at the Duke Pearson interview you speak about above.Could you please give me more information about when and where.

    Thanks/A Huge Duke Pearson Fan

  • Readyrudy30315

    Hi Mr.Johnson.Still looking foward to seeing video of Duke Pearson that we spoke of two years ago/see below.

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