As the first of the Jazz Vespers series, which will take place at the church once a month starting in September, Heath and pianist Jeb Patton were invited to help kick off this special event.
Amid the brief thunderstorm that temporarily clouded up the sky, people arrived at the fifth and final stroke of the church bell for an evening of soulful music.
Many of the audience members were avid listeners of jazz music and were very eager to attend the performance after seeing Heath’s name on the brochure.
In his career, Heath has produced over 100-recorded albums and composed over 125 compositions, many of which have become jazz standards.
Jeremy Sporn, a resident of the neighborhood came to the church for the first time yesterday for the performance and thought it was an interesting setting for the show.
"I know Jimmy and I like the music,” Sporn said. “This [the church] seems like a nice place for a concert. They should have more concerts in the church."
Soon after people took their seats, Heath, the 86-year-old saxophonist, picked up his instrument and walked to the center of the room. Without further introduction, he smiled at the audience and started playing.
As the deep, smooth sound from his saxophone resonated through the room, Patton's fingers started dancing along the piano keys. In a matter of a few seconds, the church was filled with the warm melody of jazz.
Helen Howey, a member at the church said this was her first time participating at a jazz event.
"I came out of curiosity, but I think I will like it," Howey said.
Heath and Patton played a number of songs, and a very special one at the end called, "A Mother's Love." Heath composed this piece for his mother, and wanted to perform the song as a way of commemorating all mothers over Mother’s Day weekend.
When asked what kept him so passionate about jazz and performing, Heath said, "Music is life and life is music."
He said he came from a family of musicians, and each of his siblings played a different instrument. "Music is in my family," Heath added.
The Jazz Vespers hopes to get more people involved in the community through their performances, and provide a way for people to enjoy great live music from talented performers without spending a fortune.
Reverend Noel Vanek, also involved with Jazz Vespers, said, “We are trying to connect to people who may like jazz, and who aren't sure whether they are interested in a church experience.”
Bill Gati, the co-organizer and booking person for Jazz Vespers, complemented on how well the event went.
“I think this was very successful,” Gati said. “The music and worship committee is going to be supporting it from now on.”