Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

HEATH BROTHERS, The (jazzmen)

Bassist Percy (b 30 April 1923, Wilmington NC; d 28 April 2005, Southampton NY), reedman James Edward (b 25 October 1926, Philadelphia), drummer Albert (b 31 May 1935, Philadelphia, aka 'Tootie'). The two younger brothers were at the centre of the Philadelphia jazz scene in the early '50s with Benny Golson, John Coltrane, many others; Percy had already recorded with Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and many others when he became a founder member of the Modern Jazz Quartet in 1954. As the Heath Brothers they made LPs Marchin' On '75 in Oslo, later on Strata-East, adding six more pieces for Passin' Thru on Columbia '78; then Percy and Jimmy carried on without Tootie: Live At The Public Theatre with Akira Tana on drums, In Motion '79 with Keith Copeland, Expressions Of Life '80 with Tana (all on Columbia); Brotherly Love '81 and Brothers And Others on Antilles (all these with Stanley Cowell on keyboards). Tootie's LPs as leader included Kawaida '69 on Trip (an octet with Don Cherry, Herbie Hancock, Ed Blackwell), Kwanza ('The First') '73 on Muse with Kenny Barron, Curtis Fuller (also on an Italian label as Oops!).

Tenorist Jimmy led various all-star groups on Riverside (Milestone) beginning with The Thumper '59 with Tootie (called Fast Company on Milestone); Really Big '60, The Quota '61, Triple Threat '62, Swamp Seed '63 with Tootie and Percy (Seed has Connie Kay drumming on some tracks); quintet On The Trail '64 with Tootie and Paul Chambers. The Gap Sealer '72 on Cobblestone has Tootie, Bob Cranshaw playing electric bass, Jimmy playing soprano, flute and tenor; Love And Understanding '73 later on Xanadu had Fuller, Cranshaw, Cowell playing electric piano, Bernard Fennell on cello and Billy Higgins on drums; Picture Of Health '75 on Xanadu was a quartet with Barry Harris, piano; Sam Jones, bass; and Higgins; Peer Pleasure '87 on Landmark is just that; two volumes of Tenor Tribute '88 (one on Soul Note, one on Black Saint) feature Arnett Cobb and Joe Henderson with Jimmy; Little Man Big Band on Verve included Lew Soloff, Claudio Roditi, Roland Hanna, Jerome Richardson (reeds and flute; b 25 December 1920, Oakland CA; d 22 June 2000; played with Thad Jones/Mel Lewis band late '60s, on hit Quincy Jones LPs '70s) and others. Percy also made LPs with Paul Desmond and Jim Hall on RCA; many others: cumulatively the brothers made a great many albums, all marked by good tone and good taste, the aptly named As We Were Saying (Concord '97) featuring all three in fine form.