Percy Heath (1923-2005)
Topic: Music and Art
It was Milt Jackson who wrote the tune, "Ain't But a Few of Us Left", which he recorded in 1981 on a CD of that name with Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown and Grady Tate. A jazz vibraphone player, Milt "Bags" Jackson was the founder of the Milt Jackson Modern Jazz Quartet which eventually became known as the MJQ under the leadership of pianist, John Lewis. "Bags" was acutely aware that only a few giants remained from the time when jazz music was at its pinnacle. He died in 1999 and John Lewis died in 2001. Connie Kay, the drummer for the MJQ, died in 1994.
Now I see that yet another 'giant' has passed on, Percy Heath, the bassist with the Modern Jazz Quartet for many years. Percy died last Thursday, 28th April 2005, aged 81 - just two days' short of his 82nd birthday. He had been suffering from bone cancer.
Although they did reunite in the 1980s, "The Last Concert" of the MJQ was recorded on 25th November 1974. If I could only keep one out of our collection of Jazz CDs, it would be this one. They gave of their very best with Percy Heath giving two of the most extraordinarily cohesive and marvellously balanced bass solos ever heard on that night. May he rest in peace.