Jazz Master of the Month

Each month, WEAA honors one legend of jazz. Learn more about the artist and his or her work.

Jimmy Heath with audience at Rockerfeller Center, NYC 1977
<a href=“https://www.flickr.com/photos/tommarcello/">Tom Marcello</a> / Flickr

Born in West Philadelphia, James "Jimmy" Heath was part of a musical family. His older brother Percy spent over forty years as bassist with the Modern Jazz Quartet, and his younger brother Albert became a world renowned drummer. The three brothers are fondly referred to as “The Heath brothers.” Their mother called them “Lord Percy,” “King James,” and “Prince Albert.” 

With his unique “tempo-less” ballads and high voice, Little Jimmy Scott was a spellbinding jazz vocalist. Though his style was under appreciated by the larger listening public for most of his professional performing career, he was nevertheless admired by Nancy Wilson, Marvin Gaye, Shirley Horn, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Betty Carter, Michael Jackson, and many others. 

Charlie Rouse was born in Washington D.C. in 1924, and is mostly remembered as Thelonious Monk’s featured tenor saxophonist from 1959 to 1970. His articulate solos were always full of joy, with each of his fluid phrases perfectly connected to the one before. 

The word “genius” is thrown around so often that when it truly should be used, it’s often not taken seriously. Make no mistake—Erroll Louis Garner was a genius.

Born in 1933 in Benton Harbor, Michigan, Gene Harris began teaching himself piano when he was nine years old. Admiring the playing style of pianist Oscar Peterson, Harris started touring and leading his own bands immediately after leaving the military service in 1954. 

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