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Eddie Higgins

EDDIE HIGGINS began playing the piano at age 4. His mother was a classical pianist, his father an educator at Andover Prep. From age six to fourteen, Eddie had a professional piano teacher. When he was fourteen, he heard a neighbor playing Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker records. From then on he was inspired to play jazz. Eddie attended Andover Prep and then Northwestern University.

At age 18, during the summer of 1950, Eddie was playing with Serge Chaloff, baritone sax great. While in the service, stationed at For Dix, NJ in 1955, he was recruited to enter an All-Army Talent Show. He got to the national finals in San Juan, Puerto Rico, then -- alas! -- lost to an accordion player performing "Lady of Spain." The rendition that got him all the way to the finals was his masterful boogie-woogie arrangement of "St. Louis Blues," the W.C. Handy classic.

Returning from the army, Eddie worked in the Chicago area, landing at the London House for what he thought would be a short stay; turned out they wouldn’t let him go! He entertained there from 1957 to 1969. Eddie later played at Mr. Kelly's Jazz Club. He is most proud of playing at the first Playboy Jazz Festival in Chicago in 1959.

Nowadays, Eddie Higgins spends the winter months in south Florida and moves north to Cape Cod for the next six months where he enjoys sailing, tennis and biking.

 

Eddie Higgins in 2004

Above photo used with permission. © 2004 John Abbott www.johnabbottphoto.com

 

Floyd Levin wrote in the "VB All-Stars, Vol. 1" liner notes:

Eddie Higgins epitomizes the title, “Musician’s Musician.” His swinging style—never superficially ornate—is always tasteful and harmonically accurate. Originally from New England, he moved to Chicago in the mid-’50s and rose to prominence leading the house trio at the famed London House. Eddie returned to Massachusetts in 1970. He has led many sessions for several record firms and is always in demand as a sideman whenever an all-star band is assembled.

Eddie Higgins named his “BROWNSBURG BLUES” after a tiny Indiana town about twenty miles west of Indianapolis. An ability to “play the blues” has always been a requisite for jazz musicians. Its expressive twelve-bar structure provides an ideal framework for an improvised jam session. Our All-Stars confirmed their individual competence with the age-old format. Between takes, Dan Barrett suggested they repeat the last four bars as a double tag. They agreed, and ended—appropriately—on a blueish B-flat.

 

Cornetist Tom Saunders wrote in Eddie's "Live at the Firefly Club" liner notes:

Eddie Higgins plays the piano with a feel that is one-of-a-kind. A while back, we were in Germany performing with Bill Allred's band. At our host's request, the first part of the show was to be a set of solo piano music. They provided Eddie with a beautiful Bosendorfer grand piano. As the curtain rose, one of the most musically exciting events of my life began to unfold. Eddie Higgins took charge of that instrument and the music that came out was played with so much finesse that he had me mesmerized. Eddie has played all over the world with the best players in the world. As you listen to this CD, I'm sure you will understand what I mean when I mention his "special feel."

 

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