Intermission at Carter Barron Saturday night produced a scene of startling juxtaposition: Veteran bassist Percy Heath, gaunt in the shadows of the stage wings, holding upright his two aged wood instruments and waiting for a small army of equipment personnel to clear the area of sound-support paraphernalia of fusion group Natural Bridge.
Even though the Heath Brothers, Percy and reed/woodwind player Jimmy, make no concessions to popular trends, their music is as fresh as your morning paper. And, while the lingua franca of bop is their basic tongue, they are neither unfamiliar with the new dialects of jazz nor do they neglect their roots. Percy's a cappella "Watergate Blues" on his cello-size "baby bass" was an anthology of down-home quotes and allusions and drove the clapping-in-time crowd to gospel-tent frenzy. Jimmy's lush tenor sax tribute to Ellington on "Warm Valley" elicited squeals and moans. The cascading solos of pianist Stanley Cowell were fascinating blends of "free" and updated barrelhouse. Guitarist Tony Purrone's fiery-fingered wizardry brought the house down more than once, and drummer Akira Tana, a master of cymbal coloration, was consistently supportive, was often felt rather than heard.his first game-winning RBI of the season.