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).

Title: Jimmy Heath: The Endless Search | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Origin Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Screen Sounds CD/LP/Track Review Screen Sounds
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Rediscovered Ellington CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 20, 2017
Read The Bug CD/LP/Track Review The Bug
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Sing Me Some Cry CD/LP/Track Review Sing Me Some Cry
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Masters In Bordeaux CD/LP/Track Review Masters In Bordeaux
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 19, 2017
Read On Parade In Parede CD/LP/Track Review On Parade In Parede
by John Sharpe
Published: August 19, 2017
Read "Easy Living" CD/LP/Track Review Easy Living
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 10, 2017
Read "Secular Hymns" CD/LP/Track Review Secular Hymns
by John Eyles
Published: September 10, 2016
Read "AMa AZa LaNdO" CD/LP/Track Review AMa AZa LaNdO
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 23, 2016
Read "South Beat" CD/LP/Track Review South Beat
by Edward Blanco
Published: September 6, 2016
Read "Elegy" CD/LP/Track Review Elegy
by John Kelman
Published: January 20, 2017
Read "Solstice" CD/LP/Track Review Solstice
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 30, 2016

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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