Iconic jazz saxophonist and composer (aka Little Bird) brings his big band to his home borough
Fondly nicknamed “Little Bird” (for his similarities to legend Charlie “Bird” Parker), James Edward Heath is one of the finest saxophonists to ever play the horn. A noted composer, arranger, educator, author and big band leader as well, he is a man of many talents. He started off playing the alto saxophone in the 1940s, working with Howard McGhee and Dizzy Gillespie, but soon switched over to the tenor sax. From there, he would form his own band in ’46, which included John Coltrane on its roster and was a hit on the Philadelphia jazz scene. As he took up big band, Benny Golson, Specs Wright, Cal Massey, Johnny Coles, Ray Bryant, and Nelson Boyd would also join his crew. In 1959 he had a stint with Miles Davis’s group, and worked with Milt Jackson all through the ‘60s. He teamed up with his brothers Percy and Albert in 1975 to form the Heath Brothers, and the clan toured and recorded prodigiously. In the ’80s, Heath turned his focus on teaching, joining the Aaron Copeland School of Music at Queens College as a professor. A recipient of the coveted NEA Jazz Masters Award, Heath has been featured on over 125 recordings and has contributed 130 compositions to the jazz pantheon. His big band brings a history-imbued yet blazingly refreshing sound to each and every performance.