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Jimmy Heath and Bill Cosby Together on Stage

The Jimmy Heath Big Band will perform a six-night stint at the Blue Note in NYC

Jimmy Heath
Bill Cosby hosting Zildjian's American Drummer Achievement Awards, 1998

Reprising a duo that dates back to the 1980’s when The Cosby Show was a ratings hit, Jimmy Heath will take the Blue Note Stage next month with special guest MC Bill Cosby joining him for opening night. Heath will lead a big band on tenor and soprano saxophone for two sets a night from Feb. 2 through Feb. 7.

Heath performed on The Cosby Show in 1985, and has since worked with the famous comedian several times throughout his career. Heath’s memoir, I Walked With Giants, will be released on Jan. 28 by Temple University Press and contains a forward by Cosby.

Heath, who has composed more than 100 jazz pieces and is a three-time Grammy nominee, is the middle brother of Percy and Tootie. The three together comprised the legendary Heath Brothers. A performer on more than 125 albums, Heath has long been considered a living legend on the tenor saxophone. His latest CD Endurance (2009), on Jazz Legacy Productions, is Heath’s first release since his brother Percy’s passing in 2005 and features the saxophonist with his younger brother, Tootie, on drums.

“I still love big band,” Heath told JazzTimes‘ Bill Milkowski. “I was raised up with that sound. After Duke Ellington and people like that, how can you give that up? The only problem is transporting a big band because it’s so expensive. But there are still nuts out here like me, Maria Schneider, Slide Hampton, Jon Faddis, Frank Foster, the Vanguard Orchestra and some others who believe in the big band. This is our symphony orchestra. And from an arranger’s point of view, it’s so satisfying because we can get so many musical textures and sounds out of a big band with the pairing of instruments. It’s endless.”

In his decades-long career, Heath has worked with some of the best artists jazz has to offer. “Trane was always high on Jimmy’s playing and so was I,” Miles Davis once said of him. “Plus, he was a very hip dude to be with, funny and clean and very intelligent. Jimmy is one of the thoroughbreds.”

Heath will perform Tuesday, Feb. 2 through Sunday, Feb. 7, 2010 with sets at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m. and tickets are $30 for a table seat and $20 at the bar. A $5 food or beverage minimum applies. The Blue Note is located at 131 W 3rd. St in New York City. For reservations call 212-475-8592 or visit Blue Note Jazz Club.

Originally Published