In an exchange last night at Blues Alley that partook of both irony and insight a request came from a table of conventioneers for "some Charlie Parker tunes."
The Heath Brothers, of course, are a veritable repository of the bop tradition and as such are a national treasure as well as an endangered species.
Percy Heath responded with a stunning, unaccompanied intro to "Yardbird Suite" on plucked viola that built to climax after climax and was nicely capped by brother Jimmy's flute.
It was clear from the opening number, "A New Blue," that the quintet had it together and was experiencing delight and fulfillment in each other's playing. The two brothers it appeared, couldn't get over the boppish lines and hot picking of guitarist Tony Purrone.
Stanely Cowell who, it has been observed, can do anything on piano, got off a fiercely swinging tidal wave of a solo on the merilessly uptempo "Project S" which also contained a gale-like tenor statement by Jimmy. Akira Tana's drum solo on this number was a blend of shimmering symbols and rolled toms that contained all the colors of the rainbow.
The Heath Brothers continue at Blues Alley through Sunday.