'Jazz will endure just as long as people hear it through their feet instead of their brains' - John Philip Sousa (1854-1932)
Dave O'Higgins' new album, song for song, fits firmly into this axiom. Fast Foot Shuffle is made to dance to. A rich energy exudes from these fourteen tunes inspired by Dave's unique collaboration with the phenomenal JazzCotech Dancers, whose eyepopping footwork lights up dancefloors around the world and London's Jazz Café every weekend. Unless you've seen them in person, you cannot conceive of the electrifying madness, the fast paced intricacy and the raw style of these guardians of jazz dance, a century on from its birth.
Fast Foot Shuffle, produced by Perry Louis, is the soundtrack of the jazz dance scene. From before it was even known as 'jazz', this syncopated music was dance music. And not just the suited slick sliders of the ‘20s, but the raw rhythmic slave dances in the markets in New Orleans' Congo Square. With jazz as its heart, Fast Foot Shuffle was made with the JazzCotech Dancers, musicians and hoofers working together every step of the way, melding the fast bop, latin, and deep greasy funk pump through the veins of this album.
'It's really trying to encapsulate everything that's influenced me from listening to jazz, my own personal history of jazz but which a lot of people from my generation can relate to.' says Dave. When London's club scene moved away from the heavy, bassy Jazz Funk to the slick, clean cut Sweet Soul and smooth jazz rhythms, Perry Louis and his dancers stuck to their no-nonsense music policy of jazz, jazz funk, and Latin. Ten years on and the Jazzcotech Dancers are in demand around the world. Home though will always be the Messin' Around night at the Jazz Café one of the hippest club nights out anywhere in the World.
O'Higgins & Louis met teaching on a Jazz FM educational program and immediately found a great rapport & mutal respect. Then O'Higgins' band had played a gig at the Jazz Café one Saturday before the Messin' Around club night kicked in. As the Jazzcotech Dancers took to the stage, they asked Dave and his band to jam with them. Anyone who witnessed that spontaneous session will never forget the sheer excitement of the combination. Nights rarely get that good. Individually, each member of the Dave O'Higgins Sextet is a gifted soloist, but it is the team spirit that brims over spurring everyone on to greater heights: the excitement is palpable. Though there are only six musicians, the rich complexities of Fast Foot Shuffle can easily dupe you to believe that there are more, when infact those 'extra' are the dancers themselves. His handpicked 'dream team', as he refers to the members of his band, each bring their own flavour, forming a charismatic style of jazz that lovers of a good beat will cherish. Sam Burgess on the acoustic and electric bass gets down and dirty. Mike Outram on guitar 'turns plenty of surprise corners in his soloing without losing the wah-wah, cop-show sound' says The Guardian. The grooves are enhanced by the percussive skills of Pete Eckford and Tom Cawley's individual talents are on display with his wickedly dynamic, high-strung piano and organ solos. Barnaby Dickinson's tough, funky declamations on trombone put the cherry on the cake on two tunes while Simon Lea (drums) knits the whole together propelling the unit into high octane foot stomping heaven.
Fast Foot Shuffle features Dave O'Higgins on tenor and soprano saxes, Mike Outram guitar, Tom Cawley on piano, organ, Wurlitzer and other noises, Sam Burgess on double bass and bass guitar, Simon Lea on drums, Pete Eckford on percussion and decks, Barnaby Dickinson on trombone