Albert “Tootie” Heath

Albert “Tootie” Heath

The life of the Jazz musician is a hard one – late hours; days, weeks, months on the road; untold number of hours woodshedding to hone one’s skills – all of which preclude a ‘normal’ family life – and which all too often lead to drugs, alcohol and risky behavior.

It’s little wonder then that so many of the great names associated with Jazz died at an early age: Charlie Parker (age 35), Bud Powell (age 41), Bix Beiderbecke (age 28), Clifford Brown (age 25 – it was an automobile accident in his case), Lee Morgan (age 43 – shot by his common-law wife), the list is much too long.

But, at the other end of the spectrum at Jazz musicians who continued to play and record will into their 80’s and 90’s. The short list includes Jimmy Heath (Saxophone, born 1926, still touring), his brother, Albert ‘Tootie’ Heath (Drummer, born 1935, still touring), Wayne Shorter (Saxophones, born 1933, still touring), Sonny Rollins (Saxophone, born 1930, hasn’t performed in public since 2012), Dave Brubeck (piano, continued to perform publically into his 90’s, died in 2012, the day before is 93rd birthday).

Again, the list could go on and on.

We can all be grateful, that short lived – or long – we can access their music via recordings. Check out the Manieri collection.