The complete brothers Heath at North Sea Jazz. That was one of the highlights of the festivl in 2000. And this year they are back. Though sax player Jimmy Heath, bass player Percy Heath and drummer Al ‘Tootie’ Heath enjoy playing together, they have been taking it a little slower and prefer to pick and choose.
Percy Heath, almost eighty by now, often spends his days painting. Jimmy, a few years younger, is busy arranging and writing for his own big band. And ‘Tootie’, when he’s not on the road with his brothers, plays with his own formation. In 1949 brothers Jimmy and Percy left their hometown Philadelphia to join Howard McGee’s band. Later Percy spent a long period housed with the Modern Jazz Quartet, while Jimmy led various big bands, played hardbop and lectured.
Al ‘Tootie’ Heath, the almost ten years younger brother soon followed the two and became one of the busiest drummers in the circuit, where he played with musicians like J.J. Johnson, Cedar Walton and Bobby Timmons. In the 1980’s, the trio made scores of records. And though they have worked together often over the years, it took another 14 years before the Heath Brothers came out with a new album: ‘As We Were Saying’ (’97), with Jimmy Heath writing the largest share of the compositions. A year later the apt ‘Jazz Family’ followed, on which each of their styles and approaches fused.