Stanford Jazz Workshop

SJW Artists

Peter Apfelbaum Sextet
Kenny Barron / Terrell Stafford / Dayna Stephens / Matt Wilson
Alan Broadbent Trio
Jimmy Cobb Quartet featuring Kenny Barron
Ruth Davies Blues Night featuring Barbara Morrison
Basie and Beyond: Jamie Davis and the Fred Barry Jazz Orchestra
Sasha Dobson Trio
Lou Donaldson Quartet
Madeline Eastman / Dena DeRose
Taylor Eigsti / Julian Lage Group
Eddie Gomez Trio / Frank Wess Quartet
Wycliffe Gordon Presents the Jazz Mentors
Wycliffe Gordon Quartet featuring Matt Wilson
Albert "Tootie" Heath
Jimmy Heath
Bobby Hutcherson
Nancy King
Lee Konitz
Maria Marquez Quintet
Jeb Patton Trio featuring Tootie Heath
Nicholas Payton Quintet
Kurt Rosenwinkel Group
John Santos Quintet
The Latin Side of the Great American Songbook with Peggy Stern
(New) Standards Night wtih Peter Stoltzman
Patrick Wolff Trio

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Tootie Heath
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.

Photo: Drummer Syd Hislam, at 93 one of SJW's most beloved patrons, catches up with fellow drummer Tootie Heath.

In order to get to know him better, we asked Tootie to answer a few questions. Here’s what he had to say:

What is the first recording you remember hearing as a child?
I don’t really remember the recordings, but I remember vividly remember hearing in our home the music of Mahalia Jackson and John Phillp Sousa.

Who is your favorite jazz musician under the age of 30?
Jeb Patton—The Heath Bros. gifted young pianist.

What job would you have if you weren’t a jazz musician?

What’s the strangest experience you’ve ever had on the bandstand?
That’s easy. One very cold winter night in the early 1970’s at the famed NYC Jazz nightclub, “The Bottom Line,” a man from the audience one night decided to stand up, completely disrobe, then run through the club and out the front entrance and into the minus 20 degree night. It was during the period when “streaking” was oddly all the rage.

What’s your favorite food?

What’s the most exotic place you’ve traveled to as a musician?
Tunis, Tunisia.

What’s the last book you’ve read?
"Deepak Chopra—Power, Freedom & Grace."

If you could play with any other musician, living or dead (with whom you have not played), who would it be and why?
Count Basie, just once. His music exemplifed the epitome of technical prowess coupled with discipline, innovation, style and a big, big beat!

What’s your favorite tune?
“If you mean composition, it would probably be Monty Alexander’s “Gone Yard.”

What’s your favorite thing about being a Stanford Jazz Workshop faculty member?
It would absolutely be the opportunity to witness young people arrive to the program with an interest or curiosity about the Jazz genre, and then watch them develop a love and passion for it.

What’s your favorite jazz venue?
The Village Vanguard.

Who is your greatest musical influence?
Miles Davis.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have three recordings with you, what would they be?
1. Miles Davis’ “Sketches of Spain.”
2. Monty Alexander’s “Gone Yard.”
3. My own recording “The Offering.”

How much do you practice each week?
“About 12 hours per week.”

What hobbies do you have?
My wife and I live in a neighborhood north of Los Angeles where it is not uncommon to see all manner of wildlife including deer, fox, coyote, raccoon and many others, including a great variety birds. I’m not sure if it qualifi es as a hobby, but I’ve become an avid watcher of wildlife.

If you could be any other type of artist other than a jazz musician, what would you be and why?
Probably an “assemblage” artist like my wife, Beverly. She has the extraordinary ability of transforming objects, often discarded, into timeless works of art.

When did you become interested in music, and what circumstances or events led to your becoming a professional musician?
Being raised in a musical family, and in a musical city (Philadelphia), it was an easy call. As I mentioned, my father was a clarinetist, my mother sang, my oldest brother Percy played bass and my middle brother Jimmy sax.

If you were to describe your music as a color, what color would it be and why?
Perhaps green. To me, growing up in Philly, the color always represented the vibrancy of
spring after a long white winter.


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