June 13, 2024

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Interview with Dave O’Higgins: Tricky one… Video

Jazz interview with a bad musician, as if saxophonist, problematic person Dave O’Higgins. An interview by email in writing. 

JazzBluesNews.com: – First, let’s start out with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music. How exactly did your adventure take off? When did you realize that this was a passion you could make a living out of?

Dave O’Higgins: – My parents moved a lot while I was growing up, but it was around the Midlands in the UK. I did my first paid gig when I was around 12/13 years old on drums. Throughout my teenage years I played with function bands in the East Midlands & switched from drums to sax when I was 16.

JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?

DH: – I always wanted to sound like someone else – Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane or Michael Brecker. Trying to copy them (and others!) taught me everything I know. Your own sound just comes out naturally IMO, and you start to accept yourself.

JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?

DH: – I listen to tons of stuff, try to copy it & work out what the musician was thinking in order to achieve it! I actually try to avoid routine and follow a stream of consciousness process when I practice. On a bad day nothing happens, but when I’m “in the zone” a tiny idea can spawn a whole day of obsessive experimentation…..

JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?

DH: – Yes – I think as I get older my appetite for finesse over fire has increased. But I am constantly revising my approach, choices of material, etc.

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JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

DH: – If you play with conviction, your mind and your passion are inseparable.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?

DH: – I do hundreds of gigs every year (when not in lock down!) & the connection with the audience is everything. I always try my best to engage with them as much as possible, whilst being true to my aesthetic.

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of standard tunes are half a century old?

DH: – Tricky one…. I think it’s time jazz was preserved with the same kind of reverence & arts funding as classical music.

JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?

DH: – Music is something, at it’s best, that transcends everything else and in itself IS the meaning.

JBN: – If you could change one single thing in the musical world and that would become reality, what would that be?

DH: – Musicians get paid properly for streamed music, and improvised solos are paid royalties on a par with compositions.

JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?

DH: – I listen in equal amounts to new music I like & the music from the past of the masters. The lineage is important to me. I make a point to keep my “ear to the ground”, too. The masters are obvious – Bird, Trane, Mobley, Dexter, Wayne, Joe Henderson, Brecker, etc. The new stuff changes by the day.

JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

DH: – I want to communicate with and audience in an engaging way. There is no one particular message. If you dig it you get it.

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?

DH: – 52nd Street, NYC around early 1950s!

JBN: – Have you ever given a free concert during your entire concert career? At the bottom line, what are your expectations from our interview?

DH: – I’ve played for nothing many times! 

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

JazzSmart presents Dave O'Higgins | Forest Arts Centre

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