Sunday, May 28, 2017

Heath Brothers - 1975 - Marchin' On!

Heath Brothers 
Marchin' On!

01. Warm Valley 2:29
02. Tafadhali 3:54
03. The Watergate Blues 5:54
04. Maimoun (From "Illusion Suite") 8:02
05. Smilin' Billy Suite
Part I 6:04
Part II 4:23
Part III 3:28
Part IV 4:35

Bass [Baby Bass], Violin [Bass Violin] – Percy Heath
Drums – Albert Heath
Flute, Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Jimmy Heath
Piano [Acoustic], Mbira – Stanley Cowell

Recorded at Talent Studios, Oslo, Norway 10/22/75.

If you only listened to the A-side of this album, you'd find it to be a quite pleasant, straight-ahead jazz LP, with the warm flute tootings of Jimmy Heath, rich bassline strumming of Percy Heath and Stanley Cowell cameoing on piano and mbira. "Maimoun" is just a gorgeous, mellow song closing out the first side and their cover of "Watergate Blues" isn't bad either. But add on the four part "Smilin' Billy Suite" and you have the makings of one of Strata-East's greatest albums. Sure, it helps that Q-Tip sampled "Suite II" for Nas' "One Love", thereby introducing the album to the rest of the world but like Monty Alexander's "Love and Happiness", the sum of the song is far greater than the sample. By this time, most folks have heard "Suite II" in some fashion or other - Redman used 16 bars of the song on "Supaman Lova Pt. 3" for chrissake. Cowell's use of the mbira thumb piano is just fantastic, giving the whole song a different vibe from traditional jazz instrumentation. But it's always surprised me how little love "Suite I" receives. While almost all the suites use the same basic melodic riff as a common anchor, "Suite I" focuses mostly on Percy Heath's basslines before his brother Jimmy's relaxed flute drifts in. "Suite III" is also pretty solid - much more dramatic and dissonant, largely thanks to Albert Heath's playing of an African double reed woodwind. "Suite IV" brings back the major refrain once more, this time on sax, with a lighter, more upbeat feel than the previous three Suites. All in all, an undeniable masterpiece of the soul jazz era. 

1 comment: