Client Tribute Percy Heath
I was in 9th grade remembers Matt, IMS Pro A/V CEO, when a friend played me a record (that’s vinyl folks) of the Modern Jazz Quartet. "From that day forward Jazz would forever be apart of my life".
Percy Heath, (April 30, 1923 to April 28, 2005) long time Upright Bass player of the MJQ and cellist was a name synonymous to the all American art form. The MJQ (Percy Heath - Bass, Connie Kay -Drums, Milt Jackson -Vibraphone and John Lewis - Piano) broke the mold by combining Jazz with Classical music and without a doubt became one of the most influential and successful groups ever to grace a stage.
Percy was inducted into the National Endowment of the Arts as a Jazz Master in 2002, an elite group of musicians who shaped Jazz. His discography is a virtual who’s who of Jazz. The list would take up a small book but names like, Miles Davis, Fats Navarro, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Clifford Brown, Horace Silver, J.J. Johnson, Red Garland and Dizzy Gillespie all knew him well. Percy was also one of the famous World War II Tuskegee Airmen.
Percy became a client and a friend of IMS Pro A/V when he was 71. He was referred to us by another well know Bass player, Ben Brown who played with Dizzy Gillespie, Lena Horn, Gregory Hines, numerous Broadway plays and lets not forget all that great bass work on Sesame Street.
At 71, Percy asked us set up a computer based notation system. Unbelievable, at 71 and he gets his first computer to use for his composing endeavors. Percy liked nothing more than to be able to go fishing. In between playing gigs with his brothers Jimmy Heath on Saxophone and Albert "Tootie" Heath on Drums, Percy could be seen most days on his boat in the waters off of Montauk Point, Long Island.
It was fishing that brought together our CEO, Matt and Percy. "Here I was on Percy’s boat with my son and Percy says ..."let me put on some music". "It was the MJQ...man, did that bring back memories to when I was 14" says Matt.
Percy, would regularly drop into our offices just to say hi and thats when his wonderful stories of his life and Jazz would begin. "Hey Matt, I remember when me and Rassan Roland Kirk were jamm’in and in walked Jimi, Jimi Hendrix....yeah man he was pretty good on that guitar". On another day, Matt remembers Percy coming in and asking for a cello, then he would go into our showroom and just start improvising.
Percy would always make sure to give a hug to all the woman in the office. He was simple, warm and giving. Just a nice guy with a contagious laugh. "All of us truly miss "The Fiddlers" phone calls and visits. "Some day I am coming to hear you at that Jazz club with no covers and where the music goes on all night long".