What would life be without its little surprises? Did bassist Percy Heath ever conceive the notion that he would get his first recording as leader 50 years into his career? Ah, the vagaries of fate! But this is a moment to savour and to enjoy. Heath got to choose the songs, and the band at hand has an uncanny understanding. The music is sublime; there is no over heated ardour at work, just a quiet fire which kindles the flame that enraptures.
Heath opens with the solo “A Love Song,” his bass an eloquent voice singing its song directly to the heart. His is a compact ministration without need of flourish. He takes a different adjunct with the next tune. “Watergate Blues” is a swinging delight pushed by bassist Peter Washington. There are many twists in the unfolding of “Century Rag.” Time indeed is ragged, but pianist Jeb Patton is not one to tread the predictable and his time signatures cavort delightfully as he shifts pace and thrust seamlessly. Add clusters of notes and probing lines and this one becomes one for indulgement.
Patton cuts another impressive swath on his composition “Hanna’s Mood.” He is a player of great expression, bringing to the surface every little vignette that gives a song its depth and character. “No More Weary Blues” is an apt title and a buoyant tune with the Heath brothers locked in, and a great rhythm from “Tootie.” The wait was worth the while!
Track Listing: A Love Song; Watergate Blues; Django; Century Rag; No More Weary Blues; Suite For Pop; Hanna
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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