Eddie Higgins

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Eddie Higgins
Birth nameHayden Higgins
Born(1932-02-21)February 21, 1932
Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedAugust 31, 2009(2009-08-31) (aged 77)
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, arranger, singer
InstrumentsPiano, vocals
Years active1958–2009
LabelsAtlantic, Sunnyside
Associated actsJoe Ascione, Jay Leonhart, Meredith D'Ambrosio

Edward Haydn Higgins (February 21, 1932 – August 31, 2009) was an American jazz pianist, composer, and orchestrator.[1]


Born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, Higgins initially studied privately with his mother. He started his professional career in Chicago, Illinois, while studying at the Northwestern University School of Music. An elegant and sophisticated pianist, his encyclopedic harmonic approach and wide range of his repertory made him one of the most distinctive jazz pianists to come out of Chicago, gaining the respect of local and visiting musicians for his notable mastery of the instrument. Higgins also had the unusual ability to sound equally persuasive in a broad span of music, whether he was playing traditional swing, exciting bebop or reflective ballads, providing the tone and stylistic flavor of each style, both as soloist and accompanist.

For more than two decades Higgins worked at some of Chicago's most prestigious jazz clubs, including the Brass Rail, Preview Lounge, Blue Note, Cloister Inn and Jazz, Ltd. His longest and most memorable tenure was at the long-gone London House, where he led his jazz trio from the late 1950s to the late 1960s, playing opposite jazz stars of this period, including Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, Erroll Garner, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Wes Montgomery, Oscar Peterson and George Shearing, among others. Later, Higgins said the opportunities to play jazz music with Coleman Hawkins and Oscar Peterson were unforgettable moments. Higgins spent his time at the London House Restaurant with bassist Richard Evans and drummer Marshall Thompson. Higgins also worked for Chess Records as a producer.

During his stay in Chicago, Higgins also recorded a significant number of albums under his auspices and many more as a sideman with a wide variety of musicians, ranging in style from tenor saxophonists Hawkins to Sonny Stitt to Wayne Shorter; trumpeters Bobby Lewis to Harry Edison to Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard; and trombonists Jack Teagarden to Al Grey. His versatility was captured on stage and records, backing up singers and leading his own projects as both pianist and orchestrator, working in every jazz circle from dixieland to modal styles. Although he opted to decline the offer, Higgins was asked at one point by Art Blakey to join the seminal hard bop quintet, The Jazz Messengers.

In 1970, Higgins moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida and began spending winters in Florida and summers on Cape Cod, where he played in local clubs. Since the early 1980s, he traveled widely on the jazz festival circuit and performed frequently in Europe and Japan. His releases on the Japanese Venus label earned him number one in jazz sales on more than one album. After that, Higgins played his music mainly in East Asia including Japan and South Korea. During his career in East Asia, Higgins formed a successful trio with Joe Ascione (drums), and Jay Leonhart (bass).

In 1988, Higgins and jazz singer and pianist Meredith d'Ambrosio were married and became a popular team at clubs and festivals, as well as recording for Sunnyside Records. In 2009, dates in Japan and Korea were on his calendar of upcoming concerts, but were suspended due to a long illness.

Higgins died of lung and lymphatic cancer in Fort Lauderdale at the age of 77.


Eddie Higgins's delicate tone and conception were often compared to those of Bill Evans, one of the most influential and successful jazz pianists. He mostly played bop and mainstream jazz music throughout his career. Higgins was at home playing melodies with swing-like feeling. His melodies had groove and swing-feeling without being superfluous. Such swing-feeling of Eddie Higgins was also often compared to those of Oscar Peterson and Nat King Cole.


In 2009, Eddie Higgins received Jazz Disc Award from the most respected jazz magazine in Japan, Swing Journal. With his album, Portrait of Love, Higgins won the Best Album of the Year. In the same year, Higgins received another award from Best Engineering Album of the Year.


As leader[edit]

Year recorded Title Label Notes
1957 The Ed Higgins Trio Replica Trio, with Dave Poskonka (bass), Jack Noren (drums)
1960 Eddie Higgins Vee-Jay Some tracks trio with Jim Atlas (bass), Marshall Thompson (drums); some tracks quintet, with Paul Serrano (trumpet), Frank Foster (tenor sax) added; some tracks trio with Richard Evans (bass), Thompson (drums)
1965 Soulero Atlantic Trio, with Richard Evans (bass) Marshall Thompson (drums)
1966 The Piano of Eddie Higgins Atlantic Some tracks trio; some tracks with orchestra
1967 Music from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Tower Trio, with Richard Evans (bass), Marshall Thompson (drums)
1979 My Time of Day Claremont Trio, with John Bany (bass), Marshall Thompson (drums) Recorded October 24 & 25, 1978. Reissued as In Chicago (1995)
1979 Dream Dancing Claremont Trio, with John Bany (bass), Marshall Thompson (drums) Recorded October 24 & 25, 1978 Reissued as In Chicago (1995)
1980 Sweet Lorraine EMI Trio, with Osamu Kawakami (bass), Jimmy Takeuchi (drums)
1982 Once in a While Spinnster Most tracks sextet, with Pete Minger (flugelhorn), John Swan (flugelhorn, trumpet), Bill Prince (flugelhorn, trumpet, tenor sax), Lew Berryman (bass), Norman "Red" Hawley (drums); one track septet, with Nancy Weckwerth (French horn) added; in concert
1986 By Request Solo Art Trio, with Milt Hinton (bass), Bobby Rosengarden (drums)
1990 Those Quiet Days Sunnyside Trio, with Kevin Eubanks (guitar), Rufus Reid (bass)
1992 By Request Solo Art Solo piano
1994 Zoot's Hymns Sunnyside Quartet, with John Doughten (tenor sax), Phil Flanigan (bass), Danny Burger (drums)
1996 Portrait in Black and White Sunnyside Trio, with Don Wilner (bass), James Martin (drums)
1997 Haunted Heart Sunnyside Trio, with Ray Drummond (bass), Ben Riley (drums)
1998 Speaking to Jobim Sunnyside Trio, with Jay Leonhart (bass), Terry Clarke (drums)
1998 Again Venus Trio, with Ray Drummond (bass), Ben Riley (drums)
1999 Time on My Hands Arbors Solo piano
2000 Don't Smoke in Bed Venus Trio, with John Pizzarelli (guitar), Jay Leonhart (bass)
2001 Bewitched Venus Trio, with Jay Leonhart (bass), Joe Ascione (drums)
2001 Smoke Gets in Your Eyes Venus Quartet, with Scott Hamilton (tenor sax), Jay Leonhart (bass), Joe Ascione (drums)
2002 Dear Old Stockholm Venus Trio, with Jay Leonhart (bass), Joe Ascione (drums)
2002 My Foolish Heart Venus Quartet, with Scott Hamilton (tenor sax), Jay Leonhart (bass), Joe Ascione (drums)
2003 You Don't Know What Love Is Venus Solo piano
2003 Moonlight Becomes You Venus With Joe Locke (vibes) Joe Cohn (guitar), Jay Leonhart (bass), Joe Ascione (drums); plus strings
2004 If Dreams Come True Venus Trio, with Jay Leonhart (bass), Joe Ascione (drums)
2004 Christmas Songs Venus Trio, with Jay Leonhart (bass), Joe Ascione (drums)
2004 My Funny Valentine Venus Quartet, with Scott Hamilton (tenor sax), Jay Leonhart (bass), Joe Ascione (drums)
2005 Amor Venus Trio, with Sean Smith (bass), Joe Ascione (drums)
2006 Christmas Songs 2 Venus Most tracks trio, with George Mraz (bass), Ben Riley(drums); two tracks quartet, with Scott Hamilton (tenor sax) added
2006 A Fine Romance Venus Trio, with Jay Leonhart (bass), Mark Taylor (drums)
2006 A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening Venus Trio, with Jay Leonhart (bass), Mark Taylor (drums)
2006 Secret Love Venus Trio, with Jay Leonhart (bass), Mark Taylor (drums)
2006 You Are Too Beautiful Venus Trio, with Jay Leonhart (bass), Mark Taylor (drums)
2006 It's Magic Venus With Scott Hamilton (tenor sax), Ken Peplowski (tenor sax, clarinet), Jay Leonhart (bass), Ben Riley (drums)
2008 A Handful of Stars Venus With Scott Hamilton (tenor sax), Ken Peplowski (tenor sax, clarinet), Jay Leonhart (bass), Joe Ascione (drums)
2008 Standards By Request 1st Day Venus Solo piano
2008 Standards By Request 2nd Day Venus Solo piano
2008 Portraits of Love Venus Trio, with Jay Leonhart (bass), Joe Ascione (drums)



  • Relaxin' at the Lounge (Venus)
  • Standard Higgins (Venus)
  • Ballad Higgins (Venus)
  • Tenderly: The Best of Eddie Higgins (Venus)


As sideman[edit]

With Meredith d'Ambrosio

  • 1989 South to a Warmer Place
  • 1991 Love Is Not a Game
  • 1993 Shadowland
  • 1995 Beware of Spring!
  • 2001 Love Is for the Birds

With Wayne Shorter

With Lee Morgan

With Sonny Stitt

  • 2000 Sonny, Sweets, and Jaws: Live at Bubba's
  • 2001 No Greater Love
  • 2004 Just Friends: Live at Bubba's Jazz Restaurant 1981

With Warren Vaché

  • 1999 Mrs. Vache's Boys
  • 2007 Remember

With Chuck Hedges

  • 1992 No Greater Love
  • 2001 Just for Fun

With others



  1. ^ "Eddie Higgins | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  2. ^ "Eddie Higgins Discography". Jazzdisco.org. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  3. ^ "Eddie Higgins Discography 1956–2008". Jazzdiscography.com. January 9, 2009. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  4. ^ "Eddie Higgins | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 31 December 2016.

External links[edit]