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Billy Higgins


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American (1936 – 2001)

Billy Higgins (October 11, 1936 – May 3, 2001) was an American drummer. He played mainly and .

He played on Ornette Coleman’s first records, beginning in 1958. Higgins played on such important Coleman albums as Something Else!!!!:The Music of Ornette Coleman (1958), The Shape of Jazz to Come (1959), Free Jazz (1960) and Science Fiction (1971). In 1961 a drug bust stripped Higgins of his cabaret card, prompting him to exit from Coleman’s band. He focused on studio work, becoming the unofficial house drummer at Blue Note Records and working extensively with hard bop and other players, including Donald Byrd, Dexter Gordon, Joe Henderson, Milt Jackson, Jackie McLean, Pat Metheny, Hank Mobley, Thelonious Monk, Lee Morgan, David Murray, Art Pepper, Sonny Rollins, Mal Waldron, and Cedar Walton. He played on over 700 recordings, including recordings of and .

After being featured in filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier’s 1986 jazz film ‘Round Midnight with Dexter Gordon, Higgins then reunited with Ornette Coleman’s classic band, which featured Don Cherry on trumpet and Charlie Haden on upright bass, resulting in a new studio album for Coleman. The following year Higgins teamed with poet Kamau Daaood to found World Stage, a cultural center in Los Angeles which hosted creative workshops, community activities, and live performances.

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