"It’s hard for a jazz musician to garner recognition in an era of music industry indifference toward unknown artists—and the genre as a whole. Musicians like Jim Pearce forge ahead anyway, producing uncompromised, original music. Never Open with a Ballad is a well-conceived showcase for the multi-talented Atlanta-based pianist, vocalist and composer.
Pearce delves into the piano with outstanding technique and a firm modern jazz conception. The beauty of Never Open with a Ballad, however, lies in Pearce’s composing. Covering an impressive array of grooves, his tunes combine hip changes, strong melodies and, refreshingly, a sense of humor. From the progressive nature of the brooding “Not This Not That,” the slippery 3/4 bounce of “Spectacular Orange Array,” the lively propulsion of “Cleebo’s Samba” and the bebop twists of “Debbie Marie,” Pearce presents well-developed themes that swing hard. “Clouded Canyon,” the closing track, stands out as the least swinging of all, yet is a beautiful, contemplative solo piano performance.
Pearce is more than willing to let the members of his ensemble, especially trumpeter Joe Gransden and saxophonist Eric South, take center stage throughout the session. Gransden patiently manipulates the middle range on “Barely Touching,” a harmonically clustered ballad with an overtly lush melody, and displays well conceived bebop lines on “Cleebo’s Samba.” South has a smooth tone with just the right amount of aggression to match the eclectic nature of Pearce’s music. His gutsy tenor breathes life into the title track, and his solo excursions on “More and More and More” and “Left Coast” are swinging and inventive. Bassist Herman Burney and drummer Paul Fallat shift stylistic gears effortlessly and provide a rock solid foundation.
Never Open with a Ballad is a delightful collection of modern jazz performed by an outstanding collective of sympathetic musicians who are truly deserving of wider recognition. Pearce proves himself a highly adept leader who approaches every aspect of his music with vision and integrity." John Barron / AllAboutJazz
"This is Spectacular, great CD -- I already listened to it twice. what a great collection of tracks, musical skills and the surprise of Jim's vocals, quite an opener!!
Again with the greatest pleasure will take this CD into extended airplay."
Joost Van Steen, Jazz & Blues Tour Radio - The Netherlands
"This is a reminder that there are a number of great musicians who deserve much wider recognition! Jim Pearce is one of them, his latest CD is proof of this. It is a very entertaining album and it is great jazz too! Thank you so much for sending it to me, will start playing the music in May and the months after." - Peter Kuller, Radio Adelaide - Australia
“ Jim Pearce is in possession of a special type of “triple threat.” I don’t know if he can dance or act. That’s not the kind I mean. What Pearce certainly can do is sing, play piano and write great music. He does plenty of each on his latest CD, Never Open with a Ballad. He and his band play in relaxed, straight -ahead jazz style. The songs (each tune on the CD is a Pearce original) are unique. Pearce has a clearly developed compositional style. The arrangements bring out the best from each composition. The musicians bring out the best from each arrangement. Never Open with a Ballad is seriously swingin’ CD that is infinitely worth a listen or two.” Jazz Improv Magazine/ Dave Miele
Praise for previous releases
“Pearce's group is nearly flawless” -- Michael Gladstone/All About Jazz
“Jim is an extraordinarily talented musician and those skills are matched by his songwriting abilities. It is easy to see why he has earned many songwriting awards during his illustrious career. His stories and their imaginative lyrics create vivid images that one does not soon forget, or want to. And his piano riffs continue to play in your head long after his music stops.” Brenda Barbee/ Roots Music Report
“Jazz composer/pianist Jim Pearce has assembled an impressive canon of songs showcasing his own creative composition prowess and dazzling technical gifts.”
One Way Magazine
“ a powerful reminder that not all great jazz pianist/composers are signed to Verve or Blue Note—or work out of New York” Paul Olson/All About Jazz
“Jim Pearce reminds me somewhat of Bob Dorough and Dave Frishberg” The Jazz Rendezvous
JIM PEARCE -- Piano (all tracks) -Vocal (3-5-7-10) //HERMAN BURNEY-- Acoustic Bass// PAUL FALLAT—Drums// ERIC SOUTH-- Saxophones (tenor, alto, soprano) & Flute//JOE GRANSDEN--Trumpet// RAFAEL PEREIRA--Percussion-(3-7)