Litchfield Jazz Festival & Jazz Camp

Festival History

Jimmy Heath Big Band

Jimmy Heath Big Band

Photo By Steve Sussman

Jimmy Heath Big Band

“All I can say is, if you know Jimmy Heath, you know Bop.” --Dizzy Gillespie


ARTIST TALK: Jimmy Heath will be joining Artist-in-Residence, Matt Wilson, in an artist talk with Joe Lovano on Sunday from 2:30 - 3:15 PM in the Artist Talk Tent on the grounds of the Litchfield Jazz Festival.  All ticket holders are welcome to attend.


Jimmy Heath has long been recognized as a brilliant saxophone player and a magnificent composer and arranger. He is the middle brother of the legendary Heath Brothers, with the late, great bassist Percy Heath and drummer Tootie Heath. He has performed with nearly all the jazz greats of the last half century, from Howard McGhee, Dizzy Gillespie, and Miles Davis to Wynton Marsalis. In 1948 at the age of 21, he performed in the First International Jazz Festival in Paris with McGhee, sharing the stage with Coleman Hawkins, Slam Stewart, and Erroll Garner. One of Heath’s earliest big bands (1947/48) in Philadelphia included John Coltrane, Benny Golson, Specs Wright, Cal Massey, Johnny Coles, Ray Bryant, and Nelson Boyd. And Charlie Parker and Max Roach sat in.

Recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts as a Jazz Master in 2009,  Jimmy Heath has performed on more than 100 record albums including 7 with The Heath Brothers and 12 as a leader. He has also written more than 125 compositions, many of which have become jazz standards and been recorded by artists including Art Farmer, Cannonball Adderley, Clark Terry, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, James Moody, Milt Jackson, Ahmad Jamal, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, J.J Johnson and Dexter Gordon. Jimmy has also composed seven suites, two string quartets, and a symphony, Three Ears (1988).

Having retired from his post after 11 years as Professor of Music at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, Heath maintains an extensive performance schedule, with his Heath Brothers band and his Big Band and as a guest artist, and conducts workshops and clinics throughout the United States, Europe, and Canada. He has also taught jazz studies at Jazzmobile, Housatonic College, City College of New York, and New School. In October 1997, two of his former students, trumpeters Darren Barrett and Diego Urcola, placed first and second in the Thelonious Monk Competition. This July he will be a visiting artist at Litchfield Jazz Camp.

Jimmy Heath Big Band includes Jimmy Heath on tenor sax, Tanya Darby, Frank Greene, Greg Gisbert, Scott Wendholt, on trumpets; Steve Davis, Jason Jackson and Douglas Purviance on trombones; Antonio Hart, Sharel Cassity, Bobby LaVell, Charles Davis and Gary Smulyan on saxophones and Jeb Patton, David Wong and Lewis Nash on rhythm. This is Jimmy Heath’s third appearance at Litchfield Jazz Festival and we are honored to have him.


Jimmy Heath appears at Litchfield Jazz Festival with support in part from NEA.  NEA Jazz Masters Live is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.