The jazz saxophonist Jimmy Heath, 93, a member of Local 802 since 1959, died on Jan. 19. Mr. Heath was long recognized as a brilliant instrumentalist and a magnificent composer and arranger. Mr. Heath was the middle brother of the legendary Heath Brothers, who included bassist Percy and drummer Albert (Tootie). Jimmy Heath performed with nearly all the jazz greats of the past 50 years, including Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. One of Mr. Heath’s earliest big bands in Philadelphia included John Coltrane, Benny Golson, Specs Wright, Cal Massey, Johnny Coles, Ray Bryant and Nelson Boyd; Charlie Parker and Max Roach sat in on one occasion. In 1948 at the age of 21, Mr. Heath performed at the first international jazz festival in Paris with Howard McGhee, sharing the stage with Coleman Hawkins, Slam Stewart and Erroll Garner. Mr. Heath performed on more than 100 albums, including 12 as a leader. He wrote more than 125 compositions, many of which have become jazz standards. He also composed seven suites and two string quartets. For more than a decade, he served as a professor of music at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, where he premiered his first symphonic work “Three Ears” under the baton of Maurice Peress. Mr. Heath also taught at the New School, Jazzmobile, Housatonic College and the City College of New York, and conducted workshops and clinics around the world. He is survived by his wife Mona, daughter Roslyn, son James Mtume, brother Tootie, grandson Fa Mtume, six additional grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. Mr. Heath’s musical life was much too rich to condense into this small space. For much more, see www.jimmyhealth.com (where this text first appeared in a longer format). Musicians who have stories about playing with Mr. Heath can e-mail them to Allegro@Local802afm.org for possible publication.
Claudio Roditi, 73, a trumpeter, flugelhornist and composer, and a member of Local 802 since 1977, died on Jan. 17. Mr. Roditi was known best for integrating post-bop elements and Brazilian rhythmic concepts, which he did with power and lyricism. This versatility kept him consistently in demand as a performer, recording artist and teacher. Born in Rio de Janeiro, Mr. Roditi started studying music as a young boy and by the age of 20 was named a finalist at the International Jazz Competition in Vienna. There, he met his idol Art Farmer, who encouraged him to follow his dream to play jazz professionally. Mr. Roditi next moved to Boston to study at Berklee and then began a busy career in NYC, playing and recording with Charlie Rouse, Herbie Mann, Paquito D’Rivera, Joe Henderson, Horace Silver, Tito Puente and McCoy Tyner, among others. Beginning in 1989, Mr. Roditi toured for five years as a member of Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nation Orchestra and later joined the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, a tribute group. He also led his own bands, toured worldwide, and recorded over 20 albums. He taught extensively, including at the Lionel Hampton School of Music and the Amsterdam Conservatory of Music in the Netherlands. Mr. Roditi is survived by his wife Kristen. Text above edited from Mr. Roditi’s entry at www.musicartsmanagement.com.
Peter Serkin, 72, a pianist and a member of Local 802 since 1978, died on Feb. 1. Mr. Serkin was admired equally for his performance of established repertoire and as a consummate interpreter of contemporary music. His music-making demonstrated keen understanding of the masterworks of Bach as well as an exceptional grasp of diverse musical styles, ranging from Stravinsky to Messiaen, Tōru Takemitsu and Oliver Knussen. Mr. Serkin performed with the world’s major orchestras and collaborated with Alexander Schneider, Pamela Frank, Yo-Yo Ma, and the Budapest, Guarneri, Orion, Shanghai, and Dover String Quartets, among others. He was a founding member of the TASHI Quartet, with violinist Ida Kavafian, cellist Fred Sherr, and clarinetist Richard Stoltzman. An eloquent and persuasive advocate for the music of the 20th and 21st centuries, Mr. Serkin championed the work of Schoenberg, Webern, Berg, Stravinsky, Stefan Wolpe, Messiaen, and gave world premieres of works by Luciano Berio, Hans Werner Henze, Alexander Goehr, Leon Kirchner, Oliver Knussen and Charles Wuorinen. He gave the world premiere performances of Lieberson’s three piano concertos, Takemitsu’s “riverrun” with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Wuorinen’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. His extensive discography ranged from a recording featuring six Mozart piano concertos, awarded the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis and acclaimed by Stereo Review as Best Recording of the Year, to the complete keyboard works of Schoenberg. Mr. Serkin taught at Mannes, Juilliard, Bard and Tanglewood. He is survived by his children Karina, Maya, Elena, Stefan and William, brother John, sisters Elizabeth, Judith and Marguerite, and two grandchildren. Obituary information from www.kirshbaumassociates.com and the New York Times.
We also remember . . .
George R. Berardinelli, trumpet
Vic Carlton, saxophone
Roy Haskins, bass
Paula Kabnick, bass
Lyle Mays, piano* (*a tribute will appear in the next issue)
To report the death of a member, call (212) 245-4802, ext. 128. E-mail obituaries to Allegro@Local802afm.org