Tootie Heath Trio | Constellation | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Tootie Heath Trio Recommended 18+ Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Image

When: Fri., Aug. 28, 8:30 p.m. and Sat., Aug. 29, 8:30 p.m. 2015

Drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath turned 80 earlier this year, but judging from the ebullient set his trio played at last year’s Chicago Jazz Festival, age is no hurdle for him. His late-career renaissance comes thanks in part to the excellent group he brings back this weekend, when pianist Ethan Iverson (the Bad Plus) and bassist Ben Street will again complement his crisp, elegant, playful timekeeping. Last year the group released its third and best effort, Philadelphia Beat (Sunnyside), which features a diverse repertoire that allows the leader’s skill to sparkle in a variety of settings. You wouldn’t expect Heath to drop hearty backbeats on a cover of Gloria Gaynor’s disco anthem “I Will Survive,” but the trio’s half-time version feels as bold as anything I’ve heard in the last couple of years—even if at times Iverson’s ostentatious tone reminds me of Liberace playing the theme from Rocky. On a spirited stroll through the John Lewis classic “Concorde,” where Iverson plays up the composer’s Bach-like tendencies, Heath borrows a bit from Shelly Manne’s simulated horse gallop on the iconic Sonny Rollins version of “I’m an Old Cowhand.” Elsewhere the trio take on Bach directly with a convincing interpretation of the cantata “Wachet Auf, Ruft uns die Stimme,” slow down Eubie Blake’s tender “Memories of You” to a molasseslike flow, and rip through a bunch of bebop gems including “Bag’s Groove,” “Con Alma,” and “Bye-Ya.” The record was cut in the same city Heath cut his teeth, so it’s fitting that it closes with a take on “Bakai,” a tune composed by trumpeter Cal Massey and made famous by John Coltrane, both Philly natives themselves.

Peter Margasak

Price: $20, $15 in advance

Buy Tickets Buy Tickets

Add a review


Select a star to rate.