Don't judge a book by its cover the old saying goes, but how about judging a record by its title? Rarely a title is as appropriate for a recording as with pianist Duke Pearson's The Right Touch, recently reissued by Blue Note as part of the Rudy Van Gelder (RVG) Edition series.
The six tunes, all composed and arranged by Duke Pearson, burst with a creative vitality that is complex and accessible at the same time. The compositions are both very intricate, without crumbling under their own weight, and melodious and rhythmic, without being trivial and formulaic. They range from blues to bop, bossa nova and swing.
The band is an octet with tenor sax, trumpet, trombone, two alto saxophones (one doubling on flute) and the traditional rhythm section. With a star-studded cast filling the horn chairs there is always the risk that solos will cut into each other and each horn won't have enough room to have its improvisational voice heard. This is avoided by having Stanley Turrentine trade solos with the leader on two of the tracks and Freddie Hubbard on two others. Pearson and all the horns take their turn with brief solos on the remaining two tracks.
The new reissue is remastered for crystal clear sound and adds an alternate take. On this long lost gem Pearson shows us that with the right touch several genres and different talents can fuse seamlessly into one creative whole that is almost a masterpiece.
Chili Peppers; Make It Good; My Love Waits (O Meu Amor Espera); Los Malos Hombres; Scrap Iron; Rotary; Los Malos Hombres (alternate take).
Freddie Hubbard: trumpet; Garnett Brown: trombone; James Spaulding: alto sax;
Jerry Dodgion: alto sax, flute; Stanley Turrentine: tenor sax; Duke Pearson: piano;
Gene Taylor: bass; Grady Tate: drums.