Heath Brothers: Bop That Swings

AAJ Staff By

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Jazz living legends, The Heath Brothers, Roy Haynes and Toots Thielmans, took center stage in Philadelphia for two weeks plus newer stars, Rick Margitza, Uri Caine and Christian McBride. THE KIMMEL CENTER (Verizon Hall) Broad and Spruce Streets (215.893.1999) continued its role as a major jazz concert center with the return of Philadelphia’s own—the Heath Brothers. They were working with Roy Haynes’ “Birds of a Feather” featuring Nicholas Payton, Kenny Garrett, Christian McBride and Dave Kikoski in “A Tribute To Charlie Parker.” The all-star line-up for this focus on Parker, nicknamed “Bird.”

The alto sax-playing composer, band leader, bop founder and one of jazz history’s most significant creators was Sunday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m. Prices are from $18 to $62 with a limited number of $10 tickets. The Heath Brothers (Jimmy—alto sax and nicknamed “Little Bird;” Tootie, drummer; and Percy, bassist) have been creating jazz history in their own right for some 50 years. They have worked individually with such jazz greats as Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, the Modern Jazz Quartet and Dexter Gordon. They demonstrated once again something jazz fans seem to have forgotten that bop used to swing before the post boppers got involved with just technique. It was a stunning performance by what may be the first family of jazz today. Drummer Haynes worked with Parker, Lester Young and many major jazz figures of the 40s. His all-star band has Payton, trumpet; Garrett, sax and McBride (a Philadelphia native) on bass. McBride is of course a fine bass man and happens to be the son of an equally exciting bassist still working the clubs of Philadelphia, Lee Smith.

ZANZIBAR BLUE at Broad and Walnut Streets (215.732.4500) is featured international jazz harmonica and guitar star, Jean Toots Thielmans, March 21 and 22 at 9 and 11 p.m.for a $25 charge. Born in Belgium, the octogenarian took up guitar after hearing gypsy great, Django Reinhardt. He has worked with Benny Goodman and George Shearing among others. Jazz critic Leonard Feather appropriately called him, “a splendid musician who combines a beat with a sense of humor.” He is one of the very few major jazz harmonica players and he whistles too.

CHRIS’ JAZZ CAFE, 1421 Sansom St. (215.568.3131) March 21 from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. for a $10 entrance fee featued tenor sax star Rick Margitza along with trumpet master, John Swana and the highly regarded piano man, Uri Caine. They were backed up by bassist, Scott Colley and always dependable drummer man Dan Monaghan. Margitza, who records for Palmetto and Cris Cross, was reportedly inspired by wayne Shorter and John Coltrane, is touted as one of the young lions on tenor sax. Swana can playing seemingly anything working with almost everyone. The next night, the Dave Liebman Orchestra was holding forth for a $13 admission and sets at 9 and 11 p.m. He plays sax, writes, worked with Elvin Jones and Miles Davis and has some 20 albums as leader. Guitarist Vic Juris and sax man Tim Reis will be among those working with him. Next Saturday Chris b roughtback Bootsie Barnes, tenor sax master with the swinging Mark Kramer Trio and Swana supporting delightful singers Meg Clifton and Mary Ellen Desmond. Sets are at the same time for just a $10 fee. These girls were as always just plain fun to listen to with superb support from Bootsie, Kramer and the indefatigable Swana.

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