While even the most successful attempts at blending jazz with bossa nova rarely result in a form of musical expression that moves beyond the tendencies of either, here is a style that does just thatan exploratory music we can confidently term the innovations of Duke Pearson.
Compiled from the pianist's late sixties Blue Note sessions, with a few tracks from 1970 included, there is little in jazz that bears resemblance to what we encounter on these five studio albums, the opening The Phantom in particular. Rather than the light, tipsy sway of João Gilberto's work with Stan Getz, Pearson, his decorative playing a means of insinuating the various textures to follow, was in search of a blend rather more delicately achieved, the movement of South American life with the rhythms predominant of an altogether more hectic hemisphereor at least of American jazz.
Across these three discs are such notable talents as vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, percussionist Airto Moreira,vocalist Stella Mars, and Mickey Roker, who turns in one of the great "quietly brilliant drum performances of the sixties. His playing is full of airrests and brief moments of silence placed around more typical downbeat accents, acting as signposts that turn the music's rhythmic patterns back upon themselves, reverberating.
Deft as his piano playing is, it's Pearson's gift for arranging that marks this as his most mature work, an ability to place a groove within a groove in the manner of Miles Davis' Osaka Hall performances, the Roses' "Fools Gold, or Gershwin's "They Can't Take That Away From Me singular company. And even disassociated from the film, the theme from Rosemary's Baby has a way of intruding upon one's thoughts and mood like a Schubert lied or a Nick Drake instrumentalworks that cannot be dissuaded. As a weird, welcome bonus, there are ten Christmas numbers, played slightly less adventurously than the surrounding tracksnaturally, one might saybut more palatable, I should think, for those who live in warmer climes, than the Yuletide offerings of the Beach Boys or Don Ho, come the season.
Disc One: 1. The Phantom 2. Blues For Alvina 3. Bunda Amerela (Little Yellow Streetcar
4. Los Ojos
Alegres 5. Say You're Mine 6. The Moana Surf 7. Theme From Rosemany's Baby 8. I
Don't Know 9. Captain Bicardi 10. Dialogo 11. Xibaba 12. Once I Loved (O Amor En
Disc Two: 1. Gira, Girou (Round And Round) 2. Hermeto 3. Lost In The Stars 4. It Could
Happen With You 5. Stormy 6. Book's Bossa 7. Emily 8. Bloos 9. I Don't Care Who Knows
It 10. A Beautiful Friendship 11. Horn In 12. Canto Ossanha 13. Sandalia Dela 14. Tears
15. Lamento 16. Upa Neguinho Disc Three: 1. Stella By Starlight 2. Clara 3. Give
Me Some Love 4. Christo Redentor 5. Little Song 6.
My Love Waits (O Meu Amor Espera) 7. How Insensitive (Insensalez) 8. Sleigh Ride 9.
Little Drummer Boy 10. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas 11. Jingle Bells 12. Santa
Claus Is Coming To Town 13. Go Tell It To The Mountain 14. Wassail Song 15. Silent
Night 16. O Little Town Of Bethlehem 17. Old Fashioned Christmas
Duke Pearson (p, flhn, cel), Jerry Dodgion (f, af, as), Bobby Hutcherson (vib), Sam
Brown (g), Al Gafa (g), Bob Cranshaw (b), Mickey Roker (d), Victor Pantojo (perc), Carlos
"Patato" Valdes (perc), Burt Collins (t), Al Gibbons (f), Lew Tabackin (ts, f), Ralph Towner
(g), Wally Richardson (g), Airto Moreira (perc, v, d), Buttt Collins (t), Frank Foster (ts, acl),
Stella Mars (v), Joe Shepley (t), Kenny Rupp (trmb), Hermeto Pascoal (f, g, b), Flora
Purim (v), Ron Carter (b), Andy Bey (v), Dorio Ferreira (g), Bebeto Jose Souza (b), New
York Group Singers' Big Band (Jack Manno cond)