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Percy Heath


Percy Heath The oldest of the three Heath Brothers, Percy Heath's association with the Modern Jazz Quartet was the dominant activity of his career. An excellent soloist and a perfect accompanist with an appealing tone, Heath (who grew up in Philadelphia) was originally a violinist. He switched to bass in 1946, was soon playing locally, and the following year he moved to New York with brother Jimmy to join Howard McGhee's band. Heath played with the who's who of bop (Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Fats Navarro, Miles Davis, and J.J. Johnson) in various settings and recordings. In 1951, he joined Milt Jackson's Quartet which, in 1952, became the Modern Jazz Quartet. For the next 23 years, the MJQ toured and recorded constantly. After its temporary breakup, Percy joined Jimmy and Tootie in the Heath Brothers Band (1975-1982), going back to the MJQ (where he remained a key member) when they regrouped in the early '80s. Strangely enough, Percy Heath never led a record date of his own.

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