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A Great Drummer Dies! Drum Community Saddened.


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Billy Higgins died on Wednesday, May 2nd. He was sixty five. Awaiting

a liver transplant, Higgins was admitted to the hospital with

pneumonia on April 23 and on Saturday, the 28th, the doctors removed

him from intensive care saying there was nothing more they could do.

A musician known for his adaptability, Billy Higgins came to fame

playing with Ornette Coleman's Quartet but proved to be an expert bop

player too during the numerous sessions he played for Blue Note

Records in the sixties. He started his career playing R&B and rock in

the Los Angeles area, then teamed up with Don Cherry and James Clay

in an unrecorded group called the Jazz Messiahs. In the mid-'50s

Higgins started rehearsing with Ornette Coleman. He was on Ornette's

first records (starting in 1958), came to New York and played with

Coleman during 1959-60. His resume during the 60s,'70s and '80s,

included the most important musicians of this music: Thelonious Monk,

Steve Lacy, Sonny Rollins, Lee Morgan, Donald Byrd, Dexter Gordon,

Jackie McLean, Hank Mobley, Mal Waldron, Milt Jackson, Art Pepper,

Joe Henderson, Pat Metheny and David Murray's big band. From 1966 on

Higgins also often played with Cedar Walton's trio and later with the

Timeless All-Stars. After appearing in the critically acclaimed 1986

film "Round Midnight" Billy worked frequently with the film's star,

the late Dexter Gordon, as a member of the Round Midnight band. Billy

was honored with a Grammy Award in 1988 for Best Instrumental

Composition, an honor he shared with co-composers Ron Carter, Herbie

Hancock and Wayne Shorter for their tune "Call Sheet Blues" from the

movie Round Midnight. In addition to his recordings and performances,

Higgins was also involved in a myriad of activities devoted to the

promotion, preservation and growth of jazz teaching workshops,

clinics and master classes on drums and improvisation. In his native

Los Angeles, he founded the World stage, a cultural center which

nurtures, provides instruction for, and rehearsal space to numerous

talented young musicians from all segments of the Los Angeles

community. Billy Higgins' love for the music was apparent whenever he

played. Back arched, hands weaving gracefully over the drums, eyes

sparkling, he smiled as though amused and delighted by the sounds he

created. Affectionately nicknamed "Smilin 'Billy" by sax player Jimmy

Heath, his sensitivity and taste earned him the respect and

admiration of both fellow musicians and fans and made him one of the

most avidly sought after drummers around. The great Lee Morgan summed

it up nicely when he said "he never overplays...yet you alway know

he's there" Over seven hundred recordings bear testimony that he was

one of the most recorded sidemen and drummers in jazz.


We'll miss you Billy ...

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Originally posted by felix stein:

Nice biography DJ


Hey, Felix:

I cannot take credit for that. This came to me via DrumRing.org and our freind Bart Elliott. I think this was a news wire item, but perhaps Bart can clarify.

Needless to say. It is a sad situation and the drum world has suffered a loss.


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