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Percy Heath

(4.30.23-4.28.05)

Percy Heath
Percy Heath

He was a musician-bassist extraordinaire, a husband, a father, a brother and an inspiration to younger aspiring bassists like me. I told myself years ago when I decided to pursue a career in jazz music that I wanted to be just like him when I grew up.

My first introduction to that big sound of his was from my record collection. Remember some of those wonderful gems from the 1950s that demonstrate many of his contributions to jazz from this early part of his career? Check out the hookup between Mr. Heath and Kenny Clarke on some of those nuggets as an example of that universal jazz standard–swing. It was obvious to everyone during this period that Percy Heath could swing you into “bad health.” The consistency of performance at the highest level, the strength of his pulse in the rhythm section and the purity of his tone, let alone the length of his notes, all demonstrated inspirational traits that would serve as a role model for succeeding generations of bassists.

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