The Heath Brothers—Percy on bass, Jimmy on horn and Tootie on drums—first
became a unit in 1975, when Percy was on hiatus from the Modern Jazz
Quartet (Percy, sadly, passed away
two years ago). Both Jimmy and Percy established their reputations
early on in Dizzy Gillespie’s
sextet, while youngest brother Tootie left a broad footprint on jazz
history as drummer on John
Coltrane’s fi rst album. Jimmy, fondly dubbed “Little
Bird” early in his career for a soloing style
reminiscent of Charlie Parker, doubles on soprano and fl ute, and
is a fi ne composer and
arranger whose originals include “C.T.A.” and “Gingerbread
Boy.” The Heath Brothers are
known to jazz connoisseurs as players of taste and style, and there
is no mistaking the intuitive
communication that underscores their improvisational fl ow on stage.
Jimmy and Tootie are also
beloved members of the Stanford Jazz Workshop faculty.
In order to get to know him better, we asked
Jimmy to answer a few questions. Here’s
what he had to say:
What is the first recording you remember
hearing as a child?
Who is your favorite musician under the
age of 30?
What’s the most exotic place you’ve
traveled to as a musician?
The Groove in Kongsberg, Norway.
What’s the last book you’ve
If you could play with any other musician,
living or dead (with whom you have not played), who would it be?
one of my idols.
favorite thing about being a Stanford Jazz Workshop faculty member?
with the youth.
favorite jazz venue?
Who is your greatest musical influence?
Bird and Dizzy.
How much do you practice each week?
5 or 6 hours.
What hobbies do you have?
Watching the big guys play sports.
When did you become
interested in music, and what circumstances or events led to
your becoing a professional musician?
When I was around
12 years old I heard
Johnny Hodges and decided I wanted to play alto sax… every
child in my family was
given an instrument of their choice.
To find out more about Jimmy go to jimmyheath.com