Jimmy Heath Quartet with Jeb Patton
NEA Jazz Master, composer, saxophonist, and bandleader Jimmy Heath, “has been a connecting agent, bringing together branches of the jazz tradition,” writes Ben Ratliff of the New York Times, describing the musicians ability to bridge the divide and adapt from early bebop (he earned the nickname “Little Bird” thanks to his sonic similarities to Charlie Parker) to the post-bop machinations of legends like John Coltrane and Miles Davis. Over his illustrious career he’s worked with Davis, Howard McGhee, Kenny Dorham, Dizzy Gillespie, Gil Evans, Art Farmer, among others, and has famously been involved with his family group the Heath Brothers (with for nearly four decades). During the 60s he was one jazz’s best and busiest arrangers and starting in the 60s he became deeply involved in jazz education—in fact, he was in Chicago this past May working with students from DePaul University at the Jazz Showcase
Even at the age of 86 Heath remains one of jazz’s greatest improvisers, a musician steeped in the tradition’s long history and mindful of its developments. Heath performs with long-time pianist Jeb Patton, bassist Michael Karn, and drummer Winard Harper, ably filling the shoes for Jimmy’s ailing brother Albert “Tootie” Heath.