290

Percy Heath: A Love Song

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
It’s an encouraging sign for all octogenarians when one of their own, a man who has a musical career that spans more than six decades, finally releases an album under his own name at the age of eighty. That man is Percy Heath, and with A Love Song he finally gets to play things exactly as he hears them, which is with a quartet alongside another bassist, allowing Heath plenty of room to solo, on both bass and cello.

A Love Song is an engaging album that also gives Heath the opportunity to concentrate on his own originals; four of the seven tracks are penned by Heath, another written by pianist Jeb Patton, with John Lewis’s “Django” and Sir Roland Hanna’s “Century Rag” thrown in for good measure.

Brother Tootie Heath (drums) and Peter Washington (bass) provide a warm background on this collection of mainstream tunes. But the two stars of the show are Patton, a young pianist with a penchant for the romantic as demonstrated on his own “Hanna’s Mood," and, of course, Percy Heath, whose bass playing completely defines the session.

Opening with the solo title track, Heath immediately demonstrates the warm tone, lyrical sense and impeccable intonation that has made him such an in-demand artist on over three hundred recordings, including seminal works with Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and, of course, his group of over forty years, the Modern Jazz Quartet. And, while he has spent most of his time in the mainstream, it is interesting to note that he has always been prepared to stretch his boundaries, playing on more outside recordings including John Coltrane’s Avant Garde. But it is in the mainstream where he has made his name, and that is where he concentrates his effort on A Love Song.

While Heath’s “Watergate Blues” has been recorded several times before, this is the first time that it has been played with the bass stating the melody. In fact, Heath’s bass is the predominant voice on the whole recording; while Patton gets a few choice solos, it is Heath’s voice that is the essence; his reading of “Django” is tender; his playing on “No More Weary Blues” vibrant, buoyant.

The centrepiece of the recording is “Suite For Pop,” a four-movement suite dedicated to Heath’s father. From the more dark and brooding “Prelude” and “Lament,” which reflect Heath’s sadness at his father’s passing, emerge “Rejoice” and “Celebration,” which do just that; Heath is a master at conveying emotions in his writing and playing.

A Love Song finally places Heath, a performer who has literally influenced generations of bassists, front-and-centre. With a mainstream program that is as revealing as it is fun, as passionate as it is intelligent, Heath proves why he has, in the course of over sixty years, remained in such high demand. He combines musical integrity with a purely playful nature that makes him a joy to hear. And at eighty years old and still going strong, we can only hope that he’ll have more opportunities to correct the wrong of a lifetime and record more as a leader.


Track Listing: A Love Song, Watergate Blues, Django, Century Rag, No More Weary Blues, Suite for Pop, Hanna's Mood

Personnel: Percy Heath--cello and bass; Jeb Patton--piano; Peter Washington--bass; Albert "Tootie" Heath-drums

Title: A Love Song | Year Released: 2004


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Interview
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

More Articles

Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "The Ultimate Experience" CD/LP/Track Review The Ultimate Experience
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 10, 2017
Read "Lookin' East" CD/LP/Track Review Lookin' East
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 22, 2017
Read "Wanderlust" CD/LP/Track Review Wanderlust
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "Songs Of Life" CD/LP/Track Review Songs Of Life
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 8, 2016
Read "High Time" CD/LP/Track Review High Time
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 26, 2017
Read "Then and Now" CD/LP/Track Review Then and Now
by Duncan Heining
Published: May 2, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.