Percy Heath: A Love Song (2004)
Being a little late to hop on the bandwagon about last month's release of this first album from Percy Heath, I would like to avoid giving you more of the plaudits of Heath's magnificent career and accomplishments that you've already read, and simply offer my congratulations upon this effort.
The music on A Love Song can stand by itself. Heath has contributed four of the seven tracks, with one from the late Roland Hanna, one from John Lewis, and a new composition from pianist Jeb Patton. In order to provide some space for Heath's expertise on cello, bassist Peter Washington has been included on some tracks. Understandably, you can expect a lot of bass and cello solo during the course of this session.
The title song was performed, unaccompanied, but never recorded, at the funeral of bass legend Milt Hinton and allows Heath the moment of tribute for his old friend and colleague. "Watergate Blues" has been recorded several times but usually with Milt Jackson or John Lewis stating the theme. Heath must have relished the opportunity to play the melody, and solo, on cello, with a full rhythm section as Peter Washington provides the pulse. Of the hundreds of versions of "Django" that Heath has performed, this one is unique in that it affords him the chance to state the melody on bass followed, at the two minute mark, with Patton's familiar piano intro to the tune. Roland Hanna's "Century Rag" was arranged by Patton and provides a dazzling showcase for the pianist that is centered around stride technique.
The ambitious "Suite for Pop" is Heath's remembrance of his father, divided into four segments that alternately show sadness and loss and then joy and rebirth. The closer, "Hanna's Mood," is a Patton homage to his mentor. The result is a moving performance, alternately swirling and lyrical.
A Love Song is short enough to listen to on multiple occasions, gaining new insight each time. Jeb Patton is one talented pianist/arranger/composer and I regret passing up the opportunity to see him last summer. Relegated to a second-line bass position, Washington is all pulse—and Tootie Heath is all business on the pots and pans.
Track Listing: A Love Song, Watergate Blues, Django, Century Rag, No More Weary Blues, Suite for Pop, Hanna's Mood.
Personnel: Percy Heath, bass, cello; Jeb Patton,piano; Peter Washington,bass; Albert "Tootie" Heath, drums and percussion.