290

The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra: Jimmy Heath: The Endless Search

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra: Jimmy Heath: The Endless Search Tenor saxophonist Jimmy Heath is highly respected by his peers and by serious listeners, but he isn't well known outside the jazz world in the way that Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, John Coltrane are. He played with those legends and many more. He formed The Heath Brothers in 1975 with his siblings, drummer Albert "Tootie Heath and bassist Percy Heath, and has penned numerous tunes that have become classics, including "CTA" and "Gingerbread Boy." Like Gillespie before him, he reaches beyond jazz in his endless artistic search, having penned suites, compositions for string quartets and a symphonic work.

The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, under the dual directorships of drummer Clarence Acox and multiple reedman Michael Brockman, enticed Heath into their fold for the timeless and marvelous Jimmy Heath: The Endless Search Suite. It is an orchestral offering that leaps out of the speakers with a rich fanfare of gorgeous harmony and tight rhythmic zest. Then Heath solos, and proves himself—for those unfamiliar—a giant of melodic invention and improvisational energy; in his eighth decade, and still kickin' it. For comparison's sake, Heath the soloist is probably closest to a fellow under-sung tenor man, George Coleman—another all-too-brief Davis cohort. Both saxophonists stay firmly within the mainstream, with extraordinary intelligence, invention and no-holds-barred verve.

Besides Heath's efforts, there is no shortage of premier soloing happening in the Seattle Repertory Orchestra. On the suite itself, Brockman wields an alto axe that cranks up the intensity a notch, giving way to a bright and shining trumpet turn by Jay Thomas. All this in the eight-plus minute "Part I." It stays just as stellar in "Part III: Where It Started." Heath, pianist Randy Halberstadt, the inimitable tenorist Hadley Caliman, and an especially inspired David Marriott, Jr. on trombone, all take things to the highest level of jazz improvisation.

The three-part suite leads into another Heath offering, "Sleeves." The saxophonist/composer sounds as if he's blowing from his gut in front of some Duke Ellington harmony. The guttural vibe goes deeper when baritone saxophonist Bill Ramsay gets his turn, his growl giving way to Mark Taylor's sweet and sour alto sax.

The great soloing is aided and abetted by terrific accompaniment from the rest of the orchestra, with arrangements that are by turns delicate or forceful, prowling or lilting, and always spot on.

Co-director Brockman contributes "Passage Noir," which begins with an ominous rollick, leading into a Gil Evans feel from the ensemble before Brockman takes an impassioned alto solo.

The disc closes with two classics—Charles Mingus' "Haitian Fight Song," riding the high horsepower drive train of Phil Sparks' insistent bass inside the wild horn play, followed by the gem, Duke Ellington's "Creole Love Song," with trumpeter Thomas Marriott cool-talking, Cootie Williams style, around the plunger mute. A fantastic wrap-up to one of the top big band efforts of the year.


Track Listing: The Endless Search Suite: Part I: The Endless Search; Part II: Inside Your Heart; Part III: Where It Started; Sleeves; Passage Noir; Haitian Fight Song; Creole Love Song.

Personnel: Jimmy Heath: tenor saxophone (1-4); Michael Brockman: lead alto and soprano saxophones, clarinet; Mark Taylor: alto and tenor saxophone; Hadley Caliman: tenor saxophone; Travis Ranney: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Bill Ramsay: baritone saxophone; Scott Macpherson: alto saxophone (6); Scott Brown: lead trombone; David Marriott, Jr. trombone; Dan Marcus: trombone; Bill Anthony: trombone; David Bentley: bass trombone; Cesar Amaral: lead trumpet (1-4); Andy Omdahl: trumpet (lead 6); Dennis Haldane: trumpet; Jay Thomas: trumpet; Thomas Marriott: trumpet; Clarence Acox: drums; Phil Sparks: bass; Randy Halberstadt: piano (1-4, 6); Bill Anschell: piano (5); Jon Hansen: tuba (5).

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Origin Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "An Untroublesome Defencelessness" CD/LP/Track Review An Untroublesome Defencelessness
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 22, 2016
Read "Duke Ellington's Treasury Shows - Vol. 21" CD/LP/Track Review Duke Ellington's Treasury Shows - Vol. 21
by Chris Mosey
Published: August 11, 2016
Read "Laughing At Life" CD/LP/Track Review Laughing At Life
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 27, 2017
Read "Early Americans" CD/LP/Track Review Early Americans
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 29, 2016
Read "Old Locks And Irregular Verbs" CD/LP/Track Review Old Locks And Irregular Verbs
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 18, 2016
Read "Enter the Plus Tet" CD/LP/Track Review Enter the Plus Tet
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 8, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!