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Heath Bros

Although Jimmy and Percy gigged together in and around their Philadelphia home in the 40s, most notably with Dizzy Gillespie, it wasn't until Jimmy's Riverside recordings in the late 50s that the three brothers had a chance to really play together. "By that time," Jimmy recalls, "Percy was out all the time with the Modern Jazz Quartet and Tootie was working with J. J. Johnson and Bobby Timmons." There have been several incarnations of the Heath Brothers as a group, but there was a fourteen-year layover between recordings until last year's As We Were Saying..., their Concord Jazz debut. Since Percy left the MJQ, Jimmy reports that "we've been working some but Percy is retired so we pick and choose the gigs we want." Their newest album released in 1998, is appropriately named Jazz Family.

Jimmy works with his own group and big band, maintaining a very consistent composing and arranging agenda as well. After more than a decade of teaching, Jimmy retired this year from Queens College, where a chair was named in his honor at the Aaron Copland School of Music.

The oldest of the three Brothers, Percy's association with the Modern Jazz Quartet has been the dominant activity in his distinguished career. Long prized as the ideal accompanist with a warm, appealing tone, Percy is a superb soloist as well. Albert "Tootie" Heath has long been a respected hard-bop based drummer known for an open mind towards more commercial styles of jazz. After moving to New York from Philadelphia in 1957, he made his debut on John Coltrane's first solo recording, Coltrane. Tootie has performed with Dexter Gordon, Herbie Hancock, Yusef Lateef and has been freelancing since the 1970's.

And so our favorite jazz family, these three jazz warriors are probably the most empathetic siblings in jazz history.

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