Thursday, March 5, 2009

Michael Higgins: The Moon and the Lady Dancing

Michael Higgins Music
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 3.5.09
Buy CD: The Moon and the Lady Dancing

Unless you're a rabid guitar fan, you've probably never heard of Michael Higgins ... but he certainly isn't unknown to the music world.

He studied with the likes of Joe Pass and Barney Kessel, and has played — and recorded (more than 300 albums and counting!) — with big bands fronted by Maynard Ferguson, Bob Mintzer and Dizzy Gillespie, and with divas such as Bernadette Peters and Shirley MacLaine.

Higgins earned both a bachelor's and master's degrees in music, and he's on the teaching staff at two California colleges.

This self-released album features his trio: one of the tastiest groups I've heard in a long time. Bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Adam Nussbaum join this collection of a dozen tunes, only one of which (“Alone Together”) wasn't written by Higgins.

The operative terms for this unit are smooth, melodic and swinging. It's the kind of jazz you can listen to for hours, but it's more than background music. This CD is proof that jazz can be both moving and beautiful. Anderson and Nussbaum's support is excellent, with the back-and-forth of Higgins' guitar and Anderson's bass particularly noteworthy.

This album's a must for those who enjoy guitar. And if that isn't your favorite instrument, The Moon and the Lady Dancing should elevate it on your list.

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