[The Endless Search
] might seem like a parallel production [to James Moody's Moody 4b
]. Like Moody, Jimmy Heath is a Gillespie alumnus, one year Moody's junior and still in excellent playing shape. This CD pairs him with the beautiful-sounding Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, co-led by drummer Clarence Acox and reedman Michael Brockman. On it, they offer the title piece, a three-part Heath suite (named for what he feels improvising musicians are always involved in), "Sleeves" (based on "Autumn Leaves"), and three pieces recorded in live performance: one a Brockman original, one Mingus classic (arranged by Sy Johnson), and one Ellington evergreen. The SRJO sounds lovely in its ensemble work (and in the recorded sound) and its soloists are at Heath's level? their conception as a group is more than commendable, with none of the self-indulgent excesses prevalent in Jazz big bands. The twenty-five minute suite shows off the orchestra as well as Heath, although some of its compositional ideas seemed stretched-out: my attention began to wander, although the lovely, brooding "Interlude" I could commit to memory. "Sleeves" has a rocking momentum and is nicely focused. Acox and Brockman have substantial solo space on the latter's "Passage Noir," but I was most captivated by pianist Anschell's outing in the middle. "Fight Song" has the insistent push of a Mingus performance, even though it is much enlarged: much of the energy coming from Sparks' bass work. "Creole Love Call" is an affectionate nod to Ellington? not the Kentucky Club band, but the way Duke might have approached the piece in the Sixties. If you haven't heard the SRJO, this is well worth seeking out, not only for Heath.