Dick Pearce Quartet: Dick Pearce – trumpet, Alex Hutton – piano, Steve Watts – bass, Mark Fletcher - drums
'Look at the Trumpet player with Ronnie Scott tonight, Dick Pearce. Tremendously talented- I called home to a couple of friends of mine about him.’ Oscar Peterson
A trumpet player with a formidable reputation but who has suffered a familiar fate of neglect by record labels is Dick Pearce. More than any other British jazz trumpeter, Pearce probably deserves the mantle of heir to Jimmy Deuchar, offering a style that contains a fractured lyricism reminiscent of his forebear. Pearce began his career as a military band musician and subsequently emerged in the 1970s from one of the earliest editions of that ongoing jazz dynasty, the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO). Surrounded by would-be plugged-in Miles Davis clones, and by those musicians who had reached attention through the very different apprenticeship of free music, Pearce was notable for being the kind of straight ahead player who might well have appeared on the London jazz scene twenty years earlier. He has a sophisticated command of harmonic improvising, although, as with his self-confessed (and disparate) trumpet heroes - Chet Baker, Art Farmer and Don Cherry - his playing comes across as anything but contrived. Pearce had a lengthy association with Ronnie Scott which lasted from the 1970s until Scott's health forced him to abandon performing in the mid-1990s, and some of his best recorded work can be found on the CD Never Pat A Burning Dog (Jazz House, 1990), where his solos contrast admirably with Scott's more forthright contributions, and contain a heat and urgency never far beneath the cool surface.
A quartet CD for FMR records in 1994 remains Pearce's only noticeable solo recording effort and, as with virtually all the players mentioned here, his reputation would be ill-founded if one were to base it solely on the quantity of his recorded output. However, Pearce's beautifully integrated mix of hard bop and abstraction influenced a whole generation of British trumpeters including those who followed in his footsteps with NYJO, such as Gerard Presencer and Guy Barker, both of whom have made careers representative of the kind of failsafe adaptability that has long been the way for British trumpeters.