Jimmy Heath

Turn Up the Heath: The Jimmy Heath Big Band

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One of the best composers and arrangers to emerge during the bop era, though not often ranked as high as he should be, Jimmy Heath proves his worth with this pair of studio sessions. Although Heath takes a few strong solos of his own, he primarily focuses on the abilities of the strong cast assembled for each date. "Big P" is a potent opening blues dedicated to Percy Heath (his late brother and the bassist for nearly the entire history of the Modern Jazz Quartet). Naturally, bassist Peter Washington (likely the first-call bassist of his generation) is prominent in the mix and takes a fine solo, as does the promising young pianist Jeb Patton, who worked with the Heath Brothers. The Afro-Cuban influence that was so prominent in many of Dizzy Gillespie's works is central to Heath's infectious "Heritage Hum," while "One for Juan" is an easygoing samba. "Sources Say" starts out like a bittersweet ballad, then suddenly transforms into a brisk swinger, highlighted by Gary Smulyan's powerful baritone sax. Heath also delves into overlooked gems such as Kenny Dorham's "No End" and an intriguing scoring of Jimmy Dorsey's "I'm Glad There Is You" that has a richly textured background of soft brass backing Heath's tenor sax. While big-band projects often never reach fruition because of funding difficulties, the grants invested in Jimmy Heath's Turn Up the Heath will be paying dividends to jazz fans for generations.

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