He first recorded in 1957 with John Coltrane. From 1958 to 1974 he worked with, among others, J. J. Johnson, Wes Montgomery, Art Farmer and Benny Golson‘s Jazztet, Cedar Walton, Bobby Timmons, Kenny Drew, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Johnny Griffin, Herbie Hancock, Friedrich Gulda, Nina Simone, and Yusef Lateef. In 1975, he, Jimmy and Percy formed the Heath Brothers. He remained with the group until 1978, then left to freelance. He has recorded extensively throughout his career.
Among his many workshop and classroom teaching assignments, Tootie Heath is a regular instructor at the Stanford Jazz Workshop.