On June 10, Grammy Award-nominated NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Heath will return to Flushing Town Hall for a performance that will excite music lovers.
The musician, who will turn 90 years old in October, is set to perform a concert honoring his friend and mentor, John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie. In “Dizzy Revisited,” Heath and the Queens Jazz Orchestra will play some of the trumpeter’s biggest hits such as “Groovin’ High” and “A Night in Tunisia.”
Gillespie, originally from South Carolina, became the face of bebop and modern jazz in the 1940s. His beautiful and complex music influenced trumpeters such as Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, Arturo Sandoval and Clifford Brown.
Gillespie, Heath and the legendary Louis Armstrong lived near to each other in Corona during their careers.
Originally from Philadelphia, Heath has been performing jazz music since the 1940s after he was rejected from the World War II draft for being underweight. In 1975, he and his brothers formed a band called Heath Brothers. Besides working with Armstrong and Gillespie, Heath has played alongside Davis, John Coltrane and Wynton Marsalis throughout his career.
During his last performance at Flushing Town Hall in November, Heath was joined by Michael Mossman on the trumpet, Steve Davis on the trombone, Al Foster on the drums and Bob Cranshaw on the bass. Together, the five men performed classic hits, including songs from Davis and Cannonball Adderley.
It’s surprising to hear that although he’s been performing for decades, Heath finds it to be a constant struggle.
“You always have to be your best and present music that is understood by your audience without watering your own concept too much,” he said. “You have to find a happy medium of presenting music that you think is good plus what the audience wants.”
The Queens Jazz Orchestra members include musicians such as Antonio Hart, Mark Gross, Bobby LaVell, Charles Davis, Gary Smulyan, John Mosca, Steve Davis, Jason Jackson, Douglas Purviance, Frank Greene, Michael Mossman, Greg Gisbert, Freddie Hendrix, Jeb Patton, David Wong and Evan Sherman.
Many of the Queens Jazz Orchestra members are also members of the Jimmy Heath Big Band. In fact, two of the orchestra’s members are Antonio Hart, a professor of jazz studies, and Mossman, the director of jazz studies, both at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. In the 1980s, Heath was a professor at the school and was one of the individuals to spearhead the creation of a jazz program at the college. Hart was one of Heath’s students.
Tickets for the concert can be found at Flushingtownhall.org. Tickets are $42 per person, $32 for members and $20 for students.