Eddie Higgins

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Eddie Higgins
Birth name Hayden Higgins
Born (1932-02-21)February 21, 1932
Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died August 31, 2009(2009-08-31) (aged 77)
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Genres Jazz, traditional jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, arranger, singer
Instruments Piano, vocals
Years active 1958–2009
Labels Atlantic, Sunnyside
Associated acts Joe Ascione, Jay Leonhart, Meredith D'Ambrosio

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

Biography[edit]

Born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 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 reflexive ballads, providing the tone and stylistic flavor of each styles, as both a soloist and as 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' time spent at the London House Restaurant was 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, which were suspended due to a long illness.

Higgins died in Fort Lauderdale at the age of 77.

Style[edit]

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 too superfluous. Such swing-feeling of Eddie Higgins was also often compared to those of Oscar Peterson and Nat King Cole.

Accomplishment[edit]

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.

Discography[edit]

As leader[edit]

  • 1958 Ed Higgins Trio (Replica)
  • 1960 Eddie Higgins
  • 1965 Soulero (Atlantic)
  • 1978 My Time of Day (Spinnster)
  • 1978 Dream Dancing (Claremont)
  • 1980 Sweet Lorraine (EMI)
  • 1982 Once in a While (Spinnster)
  • 1986 By Request (Solo Art)
  • 1990 Those Quiet Days (Sunnyside)
  • 1994 When Your Lover Has Gone (Tokuma)
  • 1994 Zoot's Hymns (Sunnyside)
  • 1995 In Chicago (Solo Art)
  • 1996 Portrait in Black and White (Sunnyside)
  • 1997 Haunted Heart (Sunnyside)
  • 1999 Tribute to Jobim (Venus)
  • 2000 Time on My Hands (Arbors)
  • 2000 Speaking of Jobim (Sunnyside)
  • 2000 Honk! Honk! Honk! (Ace)
  • 2001 Bewitched (Venus)
  • 2002 Don't Smoke in Bed (Venus)
  • 2002 Again
  • 2002 Speaking of Love
  • 2002 Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
  • 2003 You Don't Know What Love Is (Tokuma)
  • 2004 Moonlight Becomes You (Tokuma)
  • 2004 My Foolish Heart (Tokuma)
  • 2004 Dear Old Stockholm (Tokuma)
  • 2004 Christmas Night (Tokuma)
  • 2005 If Dreams Come True (Venus)
  • 2005 Christmas Songs (Sunnyside)
  • 2006 My Funny Valentine (Tokuma)
  • 2006 Amor (Venus)
  • 2007 It's Magic (Tokuma)
  • 2007 A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening (Tokuma)
  • 2007 Fine Romance (Tokuma)
  • 2007 Relaxin' at the Lounge (Venus)
  • 2008 I Can't Believe That You're in Love with Me (Tokuma)
  • 2008 Standard Higgins (Tokuma)
  • 2008 Secret Love (Tokuma)
  • 2008 Christmas Songs II (Tokuma)
  • 2008 Ballad Higgins (Tokuma)
  • 2009 You Are Too Beautiful (Tokuma)
  • 2009 Handful of Stars (Venus)
  • 2010 Portraits of Love (Venus)
  • 2016 Tenderly[2]

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ Allmusic biography
  2. ^ "Eddie Higgins | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 31 December 2016. 
  3. ^ "Eddie Higgins | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 31 December 2016. 

External links[edit]