The last thing any of us at Rifftides wants is for our endeavor to become an obituary service. Life goes on, however, as does its opposite. So we continue to note the passing of musicians who have enriched listeners around the world. Recently, we lost American saxophonist, bandleader and composer Jimmy Heath (pictured left) and Brazil’s Claudio Roditi, (pictured right, below), perhaps the most influential trumpet and flugelhorn soloist to emerge from his country in the second half of the last century. Heath was 93, Roditi 73. In addition to his soloing on tenor and in later years, soprano, saxophone, Heath made a lasting mark as the composer who gave us the jazz standards “CTA” and “Gingerbread Boy,” in addition to such major works as “Afro-American Suite of Evolution” and “Sweet Jazzmobile.” After gaining fame for his compositions and playing with Dizzy Gillespie, Howard McGhee and Gil Evans, among others, Heath and his brothers Percy (bass) and Albert (AKA “Tootie”) combined as the Heath Brothers) in one of the most successful combos of the 1970s and ’80s.
Born in Rio de Janeiro to a father who played violin and guitar, Roditi studied in his native land and Austria before entering the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He moved to New York City in the early 1980s and soon found work with a variety of musicians including Gillespie’s big band, Bob Mover, Charlie Rouse, Herbie Mann and Paquito D’Rivera. He was noted for his ability to meld Brazilian tradtions and quickly became sought after for his adaptability and his understanding of the compatibility of the idioms in which he specialized. Here, he plays rotary valve flugelhorn on his “Bossa pra Donato.”
Jimmy Heath and Claudio Roditi, RIP