Heath [Kuumba], Albert [Al; Tootie]
- Michael Conklin
(b Philadelphia, PA, May 31, 1935). American drummer, brother of bass player Percy Heath and saxophonist Jimmy Heath. He was exposed to jazz through his brother Jimmy’s work with John Coltrane and Charlie Parker and the success of the Modern Jazz Quartet, which his brother Percy helped develop. While in his early twenties, he moved to New York City. His propulsive yet sensitive drumming was apparent on key recordings, including Coltrane’s first release, Coltrane. While in New York, he worked with J.J. Johnson, Nat Adderley, Blue Mitchell, Dexter Gordon, and others. From 1965–8, he lived in Denmark, where he earned respect along with other expatriate American jazz musicians. After returning to the United States, he performed in a jazz-funk sextet led by pianist Herbie Hancock and also participated with Billy Taylor’s Jazzmobile, an outreach program that helped popularize jazz in the States. He released his first album, Kawaida...