Philadelphia’s Terell Stafford honors late local legend Jimmy Heath on the new album “Without You, No Me”.
If you anything about Philly’s musical continuum, you know that saxophonist Jimmy Heath was a master, and one magical part of this city’s jazz patchwork quilt. After that, you would have to know that young trumpeter (and now, also, the director of jazz and instrumental studies at Temple University) Terell Stafford played together in the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All Star Big Band.
These two things are an indelible part of your education where local jazz is concerned. There will be a quiz.
Saxophonist Jimmy Heath – one of this town’s beloved Heath Bros – passed away in January of 2020, just weeks before Covid’s fatal fall. And though stuck in the pandemic’s swirl for some time, the Temple jazz director soon rallied his troops, the large scale Temple University Jazz Band who had taken top honors at the debut Jack Rudin Jazz Championship at New York City’s Jazz at Lincoln Center on the same day Heath passed away, and moved forward in tribute to his fellow Philadelphian and genius axe man.
“Jimmy Heath was an incredible human being,” wrote Stafford. “When I got the phone call saying that he had just passed, I was totally devastated and broken. The next day I called Temple (University) Dean Robert T. Stroker, and said, ‘I hope we can find a way to honor Mr. Heath this year.’ So, we started to prepare some music – and then the pandemic hit.”
Stafford goes on to write that Heath was something of a father figure to the trumpeter-becoming-teacher. “When I started at Temple, he was the first person I called. He gave me such great advice: ‘Just teach yourself. Teach who you are. Figure out what you do, how you do it and teach that.”
With that, there is the brand new album release through the BCM&D record label, Without You, No Me: Honoring the legacy of Jimmy Heath from Stafford, Temple U’s big band and special Philly guests, bassist Christian McBride and organist/saxophonist Joey DeFrancesco. Along with paying tribute to Heath through his compositions, theirs, and the occasional arrangement of fellow Philadelphia saxophonist Larry McKenna, Stafford and Co. also pay further tribute to another Philly legend, and Temple University icon, Hall of Fame basketball coach John Cheney who brought Temple acclaim through 17 NCAA b-ball tournament during his 24 seasons on North Broad Street. In celebration of that legend, McBride composed “The Wise Old Owl” here in Cheney’s memory.
Jazz. Basketball. Without Me, No You. A stunning package.