Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Jimmy Heath: The Endless Search

Jimmy Heath

Beloved by his bop-era colleagues as well as generations of disciples, veteran saxophonist-composer-arranger Jimmy Heath is an active octogenarian on the scene, still swinging after all these years. At age 83, the NEA Jazz Master (Class of ’03) is blowing potent lines on both tenor and soprano saxophones, as evidenced by two recordings from 2009: the Heath Brothers’ Endurance (JLP) with Albert “Tootie” Heath on drums, David Wong on bass and Jeb Patton on piano; and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band’s live outing, I’m BeBoppin’ Too (Half Note).

Endurance was the first Heath Brothers project since the passing of brother and bassist Percy in May 2005. (As the saxophonist says, using humor to offset hard reality, “Two out of three ain’t bad!”) The album finds Jimmy in top form, bearing down with fluent tenor lines on his buoyant opener “Changes” and on his urgent shuffle-swing number “Wall to Wall,” flaunting robust tenor tones on the poignant “Ballad From Leadership Suite,” and switching to soprano sax on Patton’s engaging “Dusk in the City.” He navigates the tricky head of “Two Tees” with ease before delivering a smoky, burnished sound on “Autumn in New York.” The diminutive (5-feet-3-inches) jazz giant concludes the set with a strong tenor performance on “The Rio Dawn,” his musical impression of his first visit to Brazil in 1982.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published