Billy Higgins

1936 - 2001
Billy Higgins began his career playing rhythm-and-blues and rock-and-roll with such musicians as Amos Milburn and Bo Diddley in the Los Angeles area, then played jazz with the Jazz Messiahs (led by Don Cherry and the saxophonist James Clay) and Dexter Gordon, and from the mid-1950s took part in rehearsals with Ornette Coleman; in 1958 he recorded with Coleman and with Red Mitchell. He performed with Coleman's quartet in New York (1959) and with Thelonious Monk, in San Francisco (recording in 1959-60).

During the following decades he became one of the most widely recorded drummers in jazz; he made albums with the quintets of Steve Lacy (1961), Sonny Clark (1961), and Lee Morgan (1963, 1966), as well as with Donald Byrd (1961), Gordon (1962, 1975), Jackie McLean (1966, 1967), Hank Mobley (1967), Mal Waldron (1973), Clifford Jordan (1975), and Niels-Henning Orsted-Pedersen (1975, 1976), and was a leader with Bill Lee and Bill Hardman of the Brass Company (1972-3). He performed and recorded with Cedar Walton (1975-85), led a quartet (recording in 1979 and 1980), and made recordings as a sideman with Milt Jackson (1976, 1978), Art Pepper (1979), J.J. Johnson (1979), Joe Henderson's quartet (1980), Pat Metheny(1982), David Murray's big band (1984), and Slide Hampton's quintet (1985).

He also performed and recorded as a member of the Timeless All-Stars and played occasionally with Coleman in New York (1977, 1987). Higgins has been influenced by Ed Blackwell, Roy Haynes, and Kenny Clarke and is highly regarded for his restrained, loosely swinging manner. He plays and briefly acts in the film 'Round Midnight (1986).
--MICHAEL ULLMAN, The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz

The last years he also played with Joshua Redman.


"Billy's always been one of my favorite drummers. He's very relaxed, and his feeling is great."
--Tony Williams

Das "JazzEcho" berichtet am 04.05.2001:

Schlagzeuger Billy Higgins gestorben :

Schlagzeuger Billy Higgins ist am Mittwoch den 2. Mai gestorben. Auf eine Lebertransplantat wartend, bekam Billy Higgins eine Lungenentzündung und wurde am 23. April ins Krankenhaus eingeliefert.

Higgins begann seine Karriere als R&B und Rock Drummer. Während einer Kollaboration mit Don Cherry und James Clay wechselten seine Ambitionen zum Jazz. Ursprünglich ein BeBop Schlagzeuger, bekam Billy Higgins Mitte der 50er Jahre ein Engagement bei Ornette Coleman und half ihm den Jazz der Zukunft zu modellieren.

Während der 60er, 70er und 80er Jahre spielte Billy Higgins mit vielen Jazz Giganten wie Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins , Donaly Byrd, Dexter Gordon, Hank Mobley, Milt Jackson, Cedar Walton und Pat Metheny. Das Lebertransplantat das Higgins vor fünf Jahren bekam, verursachte seit Oktober 2000 Probleme. Im Februar begannen Freunde und Fans Billy Higgins zu unterstützen und sammelten Gelder mittels Benefiz Konzerten, um seine Krankenhauskosten zu tragen. Billy Higgins wurde 65 Jahre alt.

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