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Portrait In Black and White

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Album Review

Eddie Higgins is a quiet musician. His playing is never flamboyant and never exceeds the boundaries of good taste. The music coming out of his piano is reflective, exuding a feeling of relaxation, contemplation, and intimate beauty. This is not to say that his playing is so spare as to lack emotion. It's there, not thrown in the face of the listener. Like the playing, the listener must be attentive. This pianistic attitude is the artistic basis for his third album for the Sunnyside label. Filled with songs that are a steady part of the Higgins repertoire, the play list has representatives from the book of classic popular standards, Brazilian, and short classical pieces. That this serious stuff is seen by the fact that bass player Don Wilner spends a significant amount of time using the bow. This creates a chamber jazz atmosphere on such tunes as "Danny Boy." Wilner's importance to this session is set right at the outset with his sparkling plucked solo on "Lullaby of the Leaves." An album highlight is a rapturous Higgins piano on a lightly Brazilian rhythm medley of "The Dolphin" and "Someone to Light up My Life." Even on this tempo, Higgins does not go overboard with a heavy percussive presence assuring that the melody, not the rhythm, stays in the limelight. Higgins accompanies his wife, singer Meredith D'Ambrosio. Thus he is familiar with the lyrics which gives him a much better feel for the meaning of the music. His right hand on "What Is This Thing Called Love" is akin to a singer's scatting on this up-tempo arrangement. For creative subtlety applied to an agenda of interesting music, this album will be a smart addition to any jazz library. Recommended.

Biography

Born: 21 February 1932 in Cambridge, MA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

A solid bop-based pianist, Eddie Higgins has never become a major name, but he has been well-respected by his fellow musicians for decades. After growing up in New England, he moved to Chicago, where he played in all types of situations before settling in to a long stint as the leader of the house trio at the London House (1957-1969). Higgins moved back to Massachusetts in 1970 and went on to freelance, often accompanying his wife, vocalist Meredith D'Ambrosio, and appearing at jazz parties and festivals....
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Portrait In Black and White, Eddie Higgins
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