July 7, 2011
THE PULL OF LONGRAVITY:
The Heath Brothers: Live At The Village Vanguard (NPR, 7/06/11)
Jimmy Heath came of musical age when bebop did — he was once nicknamed "Little Bird," after Charlie Parker — and eventually came to be known as a dynamic tenor saxophonist. As time passed, composing and arranging, often for large ensembles or jazz orchestras, also became a forte; his name is on many tunes, a few of which have become jazz standards ("C.T.A.," "Gingerbread Man," and so on). Tootie Heath is eight years younger than his brother, and emerged when bebop was morphing into what came after. He's been a premier freelance drummer ever since: Jazz.com estimated he's been on more than 400 recordings. With them are the fine pianist Jeb Patton, a former student of Jimmy's, and bassist David Wong, who often performs in the Village Vanguard band when he isn't playing with, say, Roy Haynes.
The three Heath brothers grew up largely in Philadelphia — "the city of brotherly love," coincidentally — but all ended up in New York after some time. Percy and Jimmy were both drawn into Dizzy Gillespie's band; Percy would later assume the bass chair in the Modern Jazz Quartet, while Jimmy would go on to develop his compositional talents, make many records under his own name and even play briefly in Miles Davis' quintet. Tootie followed in his brothers' footsteps, quickly establishing himself as a premier percussionist; some of his earliest recordings were made as a sideman to John Coltrane.
Posted by Orrin Judd at July 7, 2011 5:30 AM