The ballads are sensational. I'm going to be controversial here and suggest that, setting aside Coltrane and Sonny, Jimmy Heath's playing is as good as anything else recorded at the time. His tone is amazingly consistent and the solos are unleashed with confidence. I'm not too fussed Lowland Lullaby - Jimmy Heath Sextet - The Thumper + The Quota (CD) some of Coltrane's pre-"Giant Steps" work but I strongly believe that JH must have been a huge influence as well as a good friend.
Heath sounds like a fully realised version of early 'Trane. The playing is exceptional and maybe a wake up call for anyone thinking that Blue Note had the monopoly on tenor titans. The other benefit is Heath's writing. I don't think his compositions share the beauty of Tadd Dameron or maybe have the same savvy, hipness of some of Blue Note's more capable composers of that era like Sonny Clark.
That said, tunes like "For minors only" should be considered as jazz standards. Where JH shines is the ability to make a three piece front line sound much larger. The individual parts do more than play harmonies and reading the autobiography and picking up the observations of his fellow musicians made me pay more attention to the quality of what he was composing and arranging.
Although JH is nowadays celebrated for his writing for large ensembles, these two records are clear evidence that he is one of the best arrangers for small aggregations too.
It is no surprise that Blue Note were keen to sign him and maybe producing records Lowland Lullaby - Jimmy Heath Sextet - The Thumper + The Quota (CD) a music fashionable label would have bought him the deserved kudos that came with working with Alfred Lions.
Heath's compositions are probably more ambitious than what Blue Note was issuing in the early 60's and I am strongly of the opinion JH is very under-appreciated by Lowland Lullaby - Jimmy Heath Sextet - The Thumper + The Quota (CD) average jazz fan.
I would also add that "Tootie" Heath's drumming is something of a revelation too and far more "progressive" and aggressive that his reputation would seem to merit. Sidemen and other production credits producer, etc. Other comments here.
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