Jimmy Heath



Biography

Jimmy Heath (tenor saxophone/arranger/composer) was born in Philadelphia in 1926, the second of the three distinguished and versatile Heath brothers. Influenced as an alto player by Charlie “Bird” Parker, Mr. Heath and his older brother Percy, a bassist, joined the Howard McGhee band in 1947and they went on to Dizzy Gillespie's big band (1949-50). In the early 1950's Heath switched to tenor sax and found his own sound playing with Clifford Brown and J.J. Johnson. Later that decade he wrote for Chet Baker, Art Blakey and others. He also worked with Miles Davis, Benny Golson, Kenny Dorham, and Gil Evans. His first recording, The Thumper (1959), was recorded with notable players, including his brother - drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath - and it became a hard-bop classic. In the 1960's, Jimmy Heath frequently worked with Blue Mitchell, Freddy Hubbard, Milt Jackson, Kenny Dorham and Gil Evans and co-led bands with Art Farmer. He teamed with his brothers, Percy and Tootie, as the Heath Brothers (1975-82). In the following decades, Jimmy Heath has mainly led his own band, but the Heath Brothers occasionally played together. They reunited in 1997 to record As We Were Saying… Mr. Heath's important works include the Afro-American Suite of Evolution, and “CTA” and “Gingerbread Boy,” recorded by Miles Davis. Two of his compositions appear on Riverside on the Blue Mitchell album Blue Soul . His other notable Riverside recordings including Really Big (1960), Triple Threat (1960), On the Trail (1964), as well as Picture of Heath (Xanadu, 1975), Little Man, Big Man (Verve, 1992). You've Changed (Steeple Chase, 1994) and You Or Me (Steeple Chase, 1995). Jimmy Heath has been designated an National Endowment for the Arts “Jazz Master.”

April 2004
Jimmy Heath