There have been pivotal locales which were the nurturing ground for the vanguard in many art forms. Jazz music has had a number of these spots, from New Orleans up to Chicago, then to New York and outward. It would not be hard to argue that the great city of Philadelphia should be recognized with these others as a wellspring of talented musicians. One of Philadelphia s prominent sons is the fantastic drummer Albert Tootie Heath. He, like so many other Philly natives including his brothers Jimmy and Percy, grew up in the music, as the city was ripe with musicians of the first order and an important stop for many of the progenitors of the music. On his new recording Philadelphia Beat - Heath returns to his native ground to catch the spirit and preserve it.
Brothers Jimmy Heath and Albert "Tootie" Heath carry on together in the tradition of the Heath Brothers band, minus their deceased brother, bassist Percy Heath. David Wong ably fills the bass chair, while pianist Jeb Patton has been working with the Philadelphia-based siblings for going on his dozenth year. There's a certain ease and calm present in Jimmy Heath's tenor sax playing that reflects the wisdom of his seasoned years, an assured stance that is never rushed or over-pronounced. This tone sets up the type of uncomplicated mainstream modern jazz based in bop that most fans can embrace and enjoy. It is refreshing that Jimmy Heath can still crank out new compositions that retain both traditional values and a universal appeal. And – if it actually needs to be said – Albert Heath is one of the greatest jazz drummers of all time, and continues on his tasteful, skillful, perfectly balanced path, a common example for students and fellow pros to follow. A perfect example of their combined expertise kicks off the set with "Changes," an effortless, light, breezy, and melodic a type of straight-ahead jazz as you will ever find.
Cristóbal Galán was born in Madrid (Spain) around 1625; nothing is known about his musical education or the early stages of his career. Between 1653 and 1664 he acted as "maestro de capilla" in various churches. From 1664 to 1667 he was director of the choir at Segovia Cathedral, and then he was appointed director of music at the convent of the Descalzas Reales. The queen regent wanted him to become director of music at the royal chapel, but this met strong resistance. It was only in 1680 that he obtained this position. It didn't bring him much luck, as he felt that he wasn't appreciated enough. Payments were also often delayed, mainly because of the bad economic state of Spain in the last decades of the 17th century. Not only Galán, but all musicians suffered from this situation.
Whether at the helm of a record date or as a sideman, Clifford Jordan was known for giving his all. These studio recordings were originally made for Strata East, a label known for its adventurous spirit. The tenor saxophonist leads two separate groups. The sextet selections include trombonist Julian Priester, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassists Wilbur Ware and Richard Davis, drummer Albert Heath, and trumpeter Don Cherry. Jordan's pensive "Vienna" is given an extended workout, with Cherry's somewhat abstract playing fitting in rather well. The second piece, Jordan's "Doug's Prelude," is also a bit brooding, showcasing the leader, Priester, and Kelly.
Don Patterson (1936-1988) wasn't the most distinctive organist to follow on the heels of Jimmy Smith's success. But, like Larry Young and Shirley Scott who also played piano first, Patterson was undoubtedly one of the more melodic and lyrical of organ practitioners. What's more, while his more popular peers ventured into soul jazz, funk and pop, Patterson stayed firmly rooted within the bop tradition. He recorded a whopping 15 albums for Prestige between 1964 and 1969, then recorded only five more for the Muse label until his final 1978 album, recorded a decade before his death.