Saxophonist Dan Higgins | Teen Jazz Influence Interview

Name: Dan Higgins
Instrument: Saxes, flute, clarinet
Years Playing: 40 years
Location: L.A.
School/Major/Degree: BA Jazz Studies Univ. North Texas 1977

THE INTERVIEW

ADVICE FOR YOUNG MUSICIAN? CAN YOU HELP EXPLAIN SOME OF THE PROCESS THAT YOU WENT THROUGH TO HAVE THE SUCCESS THAT YOU HAVE HAD IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS?

To become a working musician and recording artist it takes many years of practice, experience working all kinds of music jobs and a lot of perseverance. Expect to take many years to achieve some level of stability in your professional working life.

WHAT PARTS OF YOUR PERSONALITY HAVE YOU FOUND TO BENEFIT YOU AS PART OF NETWORKING AND TOWARDS THE GROWTH OF YOUR CAREER? ARE THESE TRAITS THAT YOU HAVE ALWAYS HAD OR ARE THEY LEARNED CHARACTERISTICS?

The most successful players have a positive energetic personality. Some of these traits can be natural and others are learned as one embarks on his or her career. In my case I was always enthusiastic about the music, which helped develop an overall “good vibe” in my working situations. It rarely pays off to be a “downer” – just walk away and turn down the job the next time.

WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF YOUR MOST IMPACTING EXPERIENCES IN THE RECORDING INDUSTRY?

Recording my first steady TV series – Jake & The Fatman was thrilling for me as a young player. I also remember my first big movie recording session at MGM – Awakenings with composer Randy Newman. Other fun movie scores featuring saxophone followed such as Benny & Joon and Catch Me if You Can. Recording records with the Jerry Hey horn section is always a musical highlight as it is at the top of the recording world of pop and jazz artists. Playing the Academy Awards and Emmys is also a highlight for me in the live TV genre. Every musician in LA gets a chance to do “high profile” jobs and I’ve been lucky to experience many of these gigs.

DO YOU ENJOY BEING ON THE ROAD?

I have traveled on the road with top 40 bands and jazz bands such as the Toshiko Akyoshi Lew Tabakin big band. I also traveled with Lou Rawls, Engelbert Humperdink, Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand. Most roadwork can be fun with a good positive attitude. It’s certainly a chance for a young player to gain experience. I prefer to live in LA and do local work, recording sessions, concerts and club gigs with my quartet.

DO YOU WRITE MUSIC? WHERE DO YOU GET INSPIRATION FOR THE MUSIC THAT YOU WRITE?

I have always written music and arrangements as a supplement to my playing income. It seems very easy for me to come up with ideas and songs. Most of my creative writing comes with working on my own projects as well as my friend’s record projects. Some of these collaborations include drummer John Robinson, trumpeter Gary Grant and trumpeter Wayne Bergeron. I enjoy very much working with my musician colleagues on their solo projects.

WHO DID YOU STUDY WITH?

I studied with Terry Steele and Jim Riggs at University of North Texas.

YOUR INFLUENCES- HOW DID THEY HELP SHAPE YOU AS A PERSON OR YOUR PLAYING?

Many fine players have made an influence on my playing. Certainly the great historic jazz players like Parker, Coltrane, Adderley and Davis have been inspirational to me in jazz. The great wealth of players and in LA has also helped shape my playing and concepts. On most jobs the musicianship is so good it’s like taking a lesson at work.

ANY NEW PROJECTS COMING UP?

I have a 2nd CD “Dan Higgins Quartet – Voicing a Standard” coming out in late summer 2006.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR GOALS MUSICALLY FOR THE FUTURE?

My goals are constantly changing and hard to pinpoint. Much of the music business is constantly changing and taking new forms. I hope that each year is filled with creative playing and good health.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO CONTINUE DOING MUSIC?

The intense complexity of all forms of music peeks my interest everyday. It’s a constant work in progress and I enjoy the pursuit.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU DID BEFORE YOUR MUSIC CAREER AS A PERFORMER BECAME AS SUCCESSFUL AS IT IS TODAY?

I was always a musician and had no other forms of employment.

WHAT WAS YOUR COOLEST OR MOST MEMORABLE GIG?

Perhaps one of the coolest gigs was a once in a lifetime chance to record the movie score to Catch Me If You Can with composer John Williams. Performing this music with great orchestras in concert has also been an extreme highlight. I prefer not to dwell on bad gig experiences.

OTHER HOBBIES:

I like to fish and play the guitar.

FAVORITE JOKE ABOUT YOUR INSTRUMENT:

I generally don’t joke about my instrument – reeds maybe!

ENDORSEMENTS:

I play Vandoren reeds and Buffet clarinets

LOOKING FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Dan Higgins has more information on his web site.

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Published on: October 31, 2012

Filled Under: Interviews

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