Heath Brothers - Endurance

album review

Jazz Legacy

Release date: August 11th 2009

Availability: CD, MP3 Download

 Heath Brothers: Endurance cover

Back in 1947 Jimmy Heath formed one of his earliest bands – one that featured John Coltrane as a sideman. He played with Charlie Parker and could play his riffs so well that he became known for awhile as 'Little Bird'. Perhaps to escape that tag, he switched from alto to tenor sax (and lately soprano sax) where he has largely stayed to this day.

On the way, he has recorded and performed with Miles Davis, Kenny Dorham, Milt Jackson, Clifford Brown, Freddie Hubbard, Nat Adderley, Sam Jones, Donald Byrd, Grant Green, Sonny Rollins, Duke Ellington and Pat Metheny amongst many others. He has published over 120 compositions and made countless arrangements for small groups and big bands alike. At age 82, 'Endurance' is his 'comeback' album after eleven years as Professor of Music at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College.

 Jimmy Heath photo Jimmy Heath

He is joined by his brother Albert 'Tootie' Heath on drums who, together with now departed bass player brother, Percy, had performed and recorded with Jimmy as The Heath Brothers over many decades. The band is completed by Jeb Patton (piano) and David Wong (bass) with Claudio Roditi (shaker) on one track.

It is difficult not to overstate the accomplishment of this album with its many stand-out tracks.

The playing on "Ballad of Leadership Suite", for example, is exquisite and fully reminiscent of John Coltrane on tracks such as "Naima" or "After The Rain".

"Wall To Wall" and "Two Tees" are upbeat, city slick, swinging, straight ahead jazz at its best.

When Jimmy Heath takes up soprano sax on "Dusk In The City" and on "From A Lonely Bass", the results are just as impressive.

A fine album.

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