Friday, September 27, 2013

Albert "Tootie" Heath, Ethan Iverson and Ben Street - Tootie's Tempo (Sunnyside, 2013)

Despite spending decades as a master drummer, Albert "Tootie" Heath hasn't quite garnered the attention that many drummers have, despite playing with Art Farmer, Yusef Lateef and leading a few LP's of his own. This album looks to give him some much needed adulation and places him in the fine company of Ethan Iverson on piano and Ben Street on bass. The music for the most part is quiet and nuanced, tailor made for Heath's gentle swing. "The Charlston" opens the album with some appropriately bright and danceable music. Heath is featured right off the bat with a solo drum spot. "Charade" and "Danube" are slow and haunting pieces, the latter in particular has an interesting keyboard sound akin to a harpsichord or prepared piano and develops a nice waltz-like feel. "Stompin' at the Savoy" has a firm strutting feel, a bass solo, and Heath keeping classy time on cymbals and drum accents. "Violets for Your Furs" is a spare ballad with very gentle touches all around. Tootie's very restrained brushes are patient and thoughtful keeping the feeling lilting and melodic. "Intimacy of the Blues" has subtle bass and cymbals locked in, providing excellent support for Iverson's gently cascading piano. They develop "How Insensitive" in a slow and moody fashion, moving the music into a cinematic feeling of longing and late night sadness, buoyed by barely perceptible percussion. The great Eric Dolphy/Booker Little song "Fire Waltz" (originally written by Mal Waldron?)  is given a nicely swinging treatment before the bass and drums interlude "Cute" moves into "It Should have Happened a Long Time Ago" which is played softy with gently insistent percussion, yearning piano and well developed bass. "Tootie's Tempo" rounds out the album as a solo drum feature. He builds swinging cymbals, adding drums and slowly building rhythm.Tootie's Tempo -

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