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The Heath Brothers: Jazz Family

Jim Santella By

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Straight-ahead mainstream material – with solos from piano, guitar, trumpet, and each of the Heath brothers – makes for a listenable session. The ensemble has a genuine swing that sets your foot tapping and your head bobbing; this kind of atmosphere could even coax a wallflower out onto the dance floor. The big band arrangements on "East of the Sun" and "Easy Living" feature Jimmy Heath’s confident tenor saxophone fronting a brass section with intricately woven parts. Bob Stewart’s tuba makes a firm foundation, the other brass section members color thoroughly, and the rhythm team excels. Guitarist Tony Purrone and pianist Jeb Patton lend their instrumental voices with suitable results. Each infuses a blues tinge – the kind that should not ever be overlooked in jazz.

"Wind Print," "13th House," Percy Heath’s "Move to the Groove" and Kenny Dorham’s "None Shall Wander" are sextet arrangements with piano trio, guitar, saxophone and trumpet. Jimmy Heath picks up the soprano sax for the latter tune, which contains rich blends of muted trumpet, sax, and flugelhorn. The trio piece "I’m Lost" is a cello feature, marrying Percy Heath with piano and drums. It’s interesting to watch the walking bass line move from piano to cello as each takes turns at the solo microphone. In Heath’s hands, the pizzicato cello is a melodic instrument comparable to a guitar.

The quartet arrangement for "A Harmonic Future" adds Patton’s piano to the Heath brothers’ 3-way attack. The siblings have an empathy that comes to its best light on the final number, "Three at Last," when the trio works alone. Highly Recommended.

Track Listing: 13th House; East of the Sun; Move to the Groove; Easy Living; Wind Print; I

Personnel: Jimmy Heath- tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone on "None Shall Wander"; Percy Heath- acoustic bass, cello on "I

Title: Jazz Family | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: Concord Music Group

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