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Dave O'Higgins

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Biography of Dave O'Higgins

“He is rightly acknowledged as one of Britain’s finest contemporary jazz musicians” - The Observer

“I'm delighted to sign as exciting a musician as Dave O'Higgins to Big City - Dave is one of the most engaging and hardest working guys I know, and the album is just magnificent." So says Alan Bates, CEO of Candid Records, about UK sax star Dave O'Higgins, whose distinctive funky sound and melodic grooves - from Be-bop to Jungle Bossa have found a new home with Candid's Big City label.

Dave explains: "When I was first working on material for Grinders Monkey, Rajan Hooper from the Arts Council approached me at a gig in Hull, suggesting that a grander scale project may procure some funding. I considered going down the all-star American band road, but having already trodden that path, considered that perhaps expanding my band and compositional vocabulary may be more of a challenge. Soon after, Jonathan Abbot at Jazz Dev approached me to front a week in Lincoln, operating a 10 strong team of the cream of British jazz players, all of whom had experience in education. This gave me the perfect opportunity to write for a new 10 piece band of my choice, with a brief to try to capture the spirit of (rather than parody) the history of jazz. I decided to do this in a original format, drawing on elements of New Orleans 2nd line grooves through jazz, funk, Latin and whatever. I ended up writing for 3 months and was very pleased with the result, recording while it was still 'hot' thanks to financial assistance from the Peter Whittingham Awards. It was then, just as I was wondering what to do with the music that Alan Bates and I started talking - and here’s the result"

The wider British public and fans of slapstick everywhere would have seen Dave's fleeting appearance as ‘The Busker’ in 'Return of Mister Bean', but music fans know Dave O'Higgins either from his two British Jazz Awards (Best Tenor Sax), rave reviews ("A world-class player." - BBC Music Magazine), his five celebrated albums (on EPZ and his own label Short Fuse), and his constant touring, having played with artists from Frank Sinatra to Salif Keita and in countries as diverse as Australia, Latvia and Venezuela.

When not on tour Dave teaches at London's Guildhall, the Royal Academy and the Universities of Natal and Cape Town in South Africa, a country in which he spends a lot of time, usually working with local musicians. O'Higgin’s first influence was Wilton Felder of the Crusaders, then Charlie Parker and shortly afterwards the rest of bebop. Three years with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra saw his sax skills develop rapidly. An early education with Jim Mullen's band guided his musical sensibilities, and when Martin Taylor took him under his wing, other attributes were instilled into him - how to become a supreme showman for example.

A hard worker brimming with confidence, Mr O'Higgins has pushed his solo career on apace. Dave has never been one of jazz's whiners, and continues to disprove the argument that jazz is elitist and never makes money. Though still a young musician he is using even younger blood in his Biggish Band, gigging around the world, and in the UK this summer on an Arts Council sponsored tour. His musical influences are now many and varied, and all are worn on his sleeve in his thoroughly enjoyable shows.

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