Jimmy Heath is one of the great tenor saxophone players in jazz and he is also a very skilled arranger and composer. He has played in many of the most famous groups in jazz as a sideman and soloist and also served many, including Dizzy Gillespie, as composer/arranger. From his soloing on this record alone it is easy to see why he has such an enviable reputation. His improvisations are exquisite and worth the price of the album on their own. The same goes for his arranging and composing skills which provide the Seattle Repertory a challenging task, which it is well up to.
This version of The Endless Search
was recorded in December 2007; the orchestra had played the suite at concerts a year earlier and here they sound entirely comfortable with the music.
Sleeves was written by Jimmy Heath in 1984 and it is based on a re-harmonisation of Autumn Leaves. Passage Noir was written By Michael Brockman whilst in Paris. Haitian Fight Song is a Charles Mingus composition: this arrangement by Sy Johnson, was recorded by the Mingus Band in 1999. Creole Love Call is one of the great Duke Ellington classics played at a slightly faster than normal tempo. It demonstrates the versatility of this great orchestra to adapt to any period of jazz and pull it off. The audience obviously appreciate it!
Looking at the sleeve photographs, the SRJO has musicians of all ages, who all have the consummate skills required to play the best in big-band music. I originally approached this CD with some trepidation, for fear that it would turn out to be the kind of music that is phenomenally difficult to play, but hell to listen to. That is certainly not the case; this music is very accessible and played by a band of excellent musicians.