If you wanted to suck, the Philadelphia jazz scene of the 1940s and '50s wasn't the place to do it. The competition was intensely fierce, and with cats like John Coltrane, Lee Morgan, Jimmy Smith and Benny Golson running around (when they weren't moving to nearby New York), it was generally understood that an improvisor had to give 200%. A product of Philly's rich jazz scene, The Heath Brothers are among the most talented siblings in the history of jazz. After so many years of going their separate ways, tenor & soprano saxman Jimmy Heath, bassist Percy Heath and drummer Al "Tootie" Heath are reunited with As We Were Saying...
. On familiar pieces like Billy Strayhorn's "Daydream" and Jimmy Dorsey's "I'm Glad There is You" as well as "Nostalgia" (a class that trumpeter Fats Navarro wrote in the 1940s), it's obvious that The Heath Brothers haven't lost either their strong rapport or their ability to swing without hesitation. And their enthusiasm is clearly a source of inspiration for trombonist Slide Hampton, pianist Sir Roland Hanna and pianist Stanley Cowell, who switches to the kalimba or "African thumb piano" on three songs).
This reunion was long overdue.
Reprinted with the permission of Myrna Daniels and L.A. Jazz Scene , the largest jazz publication in Southern California.