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Eddie Higgins

Great Trio Sessions

PHONO 870269 [79:04 + 79:39]

 

 

 

CD1
A Night In Tunisia
Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe
I’m Getting Sentimental Over You
Prelude To A Kiss
Tangerine
Strike Up The Band
Over The Rainbow
I’ll Be Loving You
You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To
Spring Is Here
Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea
Falling In Love With Love
Ab’s Blues
Blues For Big Scotia
How Long Has This Been Goin’ On
Falling In Love With Love [Alt. Tk.]
Untitled Blues

CD2
Satin Doll
Little Girl Blue
Blues For Big Scotia [Alt. Tk.]
Satin Doll [Alt. Tk.]
Tango Africaine
Love Letters
Shelley’s World
Soulero
Mr. Evans
Django
Beautiful Dreamer
Makin’ Whoopee
You Leave Me Breathless
Zarac, The Evil One
Foot’s Bag
You Leave Me Breathless [Alt. Tk.]

Eddie Higgins (piano): Dave Poskonka (bass): Jack Noren (drums) (CD1, tracks 1-11)

Eddie Higgins (piano): Richard Evans (bass): Marshall Thompson (drums) (CD1, tracks 12-17, CD2, tracks 1-12)

Paul Serrano (trumpet): Frank Foster (tenor sax): Eddie Higgins (piano): Jim Atlas (bass): Marshall Thompson (drums) (CD2, tracks 13-16)

Recorded 1957-65

 

Pianist Eddie Higgins doesn’t feature much, if at all, in the major Jazz dictionaries and record guides. It would be easy to pigeon-hole him (or denigrate him, depending on the context) as a disciple of Bill Evans but that would be seriously and, I think, stylistically rather to miss the point. He had paid his dues with pre-war Dixielanders and mainstreamers and worked a lot with Coleman Hawkins, but his métier was the piano trio and these 1957-65 sessions show him at his very best.

He spent a lot of time in the famed venue The London House in Chicago where, with varying personnel – here the bassist are Dave Poskonka and Richard Evans and the drummers Jack Noren and Marshall Thompson – he held quiet, restrained court.

His flexible but bop-based pianism is predicated on an unusually resonant bass line, lyrical enterprise and a splendid touch. In up-tempo numbers – and his hard-swinging version of I’m Getting Sentimental is both a surprise and a delight – he is wholly assured and his deft delicate touch irradiates Prelude to a Kiss beautifully. In fact, he’s a pianist who can cover the very widest of emotive states and is a truly articulate player. He’s witty in Strike up The Band, tender and Classically-minded, tonally speaking, in Over the Rainbow and tempo-doubles with Garneresque alacrity in Spring is Here. Some dues are paid to Evans but also to Bud Powell too and his own Ab’s Blues summons up a fast swinging Basie.

Higgins takes the lead almost throughout bar one or two brief solos from his assiduous and tightly melded confrères. For some reason the piano’s treble sounds decidedly the worse for wear in Little Girl Blue though this isn’t a problem when Higgins gets funky on his own Tango Africaine. His LP Soulero on Atlantic is here in its entirety – the others derive from LPs on Replica and Vee-Jay – and it does pretty much what it promises, namely providing Blue Note-inspired pop-soul whilst also taking a welcome detour to salute Stephen Foster and the MJQ’s Django, which he does with pellucid beauty. The last four cuts on the twofer come from another Vee-Jay session but this time with a front line of trumpeter Paul Serrano and the tenor sax of Frank Foster. Foster play with characteristic aplomb but the little-known Serrano impresses too with his bop-blues vernacular.

The original liner notes have been retained, but not in reproduction form for once – this time attractively reset - and there’s a new note from Joseph Jesk. All this is excellent. Some alternative takes increase the value of this splendid and enlightening twofer.

Jonathan Woolf




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