Jimmy Heath and the Schillinger System

Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz

“During the 70’s Heath began to pursue writing intensely. He learned the Schillinger System of Musical Composition from one of its prominent adherents, Rudolf Schramm”I became one of Rudy’s students,” “It was all about a numerical system that helped me find all kinds of different chord sequence you might not think of intuitively on your own. I with him at Carnegie artist studio and studied with him for two years, as a result I wrote my first extended piece,  an Afro-American suite of evolution [1973], with African percussion, a big band, strings and a choir he took me to the next step.”

Downbeat May 2014

Jymie Merritt and Schillinger

Jymie Merritt has worked in jazz, R&B, and blues. In the early 1950s he toured with rock and roll pioneers Bullmoose Jackson and Chris Powell moving on to work with legendary bluesman BB King from 1955 to 1957. In 1957 Jymie moved to Manhattan, New York, to work with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. The Messenger ensemble Merritt joined featured his friend Benny Golson as well as Bobby Timmons and Lee Morgan. Merritt’s touring and recording with Blakey extended until 1962, when an unknown ailment forced him to stop touring.

By 1964 Merritt was back, working with the trumpeter and vocalist Chet Baker,[1] and is featured prominently in Baker’s unfinished autobiography published under the title As Though I Had Wings: The Lost Memoir.

From 1965 to 1968 Merritt worked with the drummer, composer and activist Max Roach, not only in the rhythm section but as a composer, recording “Nommo” on Roach’s critically acclaimed 1966 Atlantic album The Drum Also Waltzes. “Nommo” would earn Merritt a nomination for Best Jazz Composer in Downbeat Magazine’s Critics Poll.