Jazz saxophonist, composer, arranger, educator, recording engineer, producer and studio owner

Born Birmingham 1 September 1964

Brought up in Derbyshire

Learnt drums and piano as a child

Began working as a drummer aged 11 backing cabaret acts at the Derby Engineers’ Club and doing weekend function gigs with the Gerry Foster Band

Aged 15 bought a saxophone and began trying to learn Wilton Felder’s solo on Street Life by the Crusaders with Randy Crawford

1983 Moved to London to study music at the City University

1983-current Formed O’Higgins Quartet / Quintet ( first toured for Jazz Services in 1985)

1983-86 Toured & recorded with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra

1986-1994 Toured & recorded with Cleo Laine and the John Dankworth Quintet

1989 first phone call from Ronnie Scott - appeared regularly at the famed club ever since

1986-2000 Toured & recorded on and off with Icelandic fusion band, Mezzoforte

1988-1990 Co-led fusion band Roadside Picnic with bassist Mario Castronari, signed to BMG Records as part of the “jazz boom” of late ‘80s

Late 80s-early 90s toured extensively with award winning sax quartet, Itchy Fingers

1990 Recorded “A Clearer View” with fellow BMG artist Jason Rebello, produced by Wayne Shorter

Early 1990s played several times with US vibes player Joe Locke which led to recording second solo cd in New York in 1994 with Locke, Joey Calderazzo, James Genus and Adam Nussbaum. Further collaborations resulted with Billy Childs, Eddie Gomez, Gene Jackson, Dave Kikowski and Gary Novak.

1990 acted & performed as busker in “The Return of Mr Bean” with Rowan Atkinson

1992 Played a week at the Royal Albert Hall with Frank Sinatra

1996 Recorded and toured with Ray Charles - Strong Love Affair album

1994-1998 Toured & recorded with Martin Taylor’s Spirit of Django. MD’d and arranged 3 songs on the cd Celebrating Grappelli with violinist Stephane Grappelli. This album was a big hit worldwide.

1993-1998 Toured & recorded with Jim Mullen’s Quartet with Laurence Cottle & Ian Thomas

1993-present day Toured & recorded extensively in South Africa, collaborating with many local musicians. Also offered full time posts at Natal University, Durban and Cape Town University

2000-2005 Dave O’Higgins Biggish Band - 10 piece band playing all original compositions and arrangements, given Peter Whittingham Award for musical excellence to record Big Shake Up cd. Now a judge for same awards.

Mid 1990s-present BBC Big Band

Mid 2000s-present regular guest with Ronnie Scott’s Allstars (house band)

2001 Toured & recorded with Jamie Cullum

2005-2008 Toured & recorded with Kyle Eastwood

2002-present Toured & recorded with Matthew Herbert Big Band

2006 John Serry Quartet recording “The Shift”. Serry is US Grammy nominated pianist.

2007-present after introduction by Danish drummer, Kristian Leth, began collaboration with US saxophonist Eric Alexander

2009-2011 collaborations, recordings and concerts internationally with Brazilian accordion, piano player and composer, Chico Chagas

2010-present Gascoyne/O’Higgins Quartet, group with Sebastiaan de Krom on drums, Graham Harvey on piano and co-led with bassist, Geoff Gascoyne. The two leaders take equal responsibility to write & arrange a selection of “contrafacts” (new tunes written to changes of favourite standards)

2010-present The Two Minds Big Band co-led with long time associate, Pete Wraight. Wraight is the MD an arranger of Matthew Herbert’s Big Band. The band is has recorded an album of originals - 5 tunes written and arranged by each leader with the same title as its inspiration.

2010 created JVG Studio recording facility, 67 recordings produced so far - this is a “live in the room” studio for recording acoustic jazz sessions, based on the early Rudy Van Gelder at Hackensack model.

2010-present Brubecks Play Brubeck group formed with Darius, Chris and Dan Brubeck to celebrate the music of Dave Brubeck.

2011-present joined Darius Brubeck Quartet with Matt Ridley (bass) and Wesley Gibbons (drums) and recorded, engineered, mixed and mastered “Cathy’s Summer” (2014) and “Years Ago (2016) CDs

2013 elected to the London Regional Committee of Musicians’ Union

2014 invited to play at Dizzy’s at the Lincoln Center, New York, with Darius, Chris and Dan Brubeck

2014 Produced and co-led the Loire Allstars cd with Tristan Mailliot, Anita Wardell, Oli Hayhurst and Mike Gorman

2014 Performed 2-tenor line up with great saxophonist & Member of the Order of Canada, Phil Dwyer

2015 began collaborating and songwriting with Mark Reilly (Matt Bianco) - co-written and co-produced new CD for 2017 release in Japan on JVC

Educational work

Taught at Goldsmiths College, Leeds College of Music, Wavendon Jazz Course, Royal Northern College of Music, University of Natal, Durban, South Africa, University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Directed 5-day jazz “audience development” programme in Lincoln, supported by East Midlands Arts.  Worked in primary & secondary schools, adult workshops & gave a range  of public performances. (Sept 2000)

40 secondary school workshops as Jazzworks sponsored by Jazz FM 2001. 

Directed 3-day educational program in Cambridge with the aim of bringing the generations together through music. Worked in primary & secondary schools, with amateur music groups in the community & with elderly people. Culminated in a free concert with contributions from all these groups.

(Sept 2001).

Similar projects in Bournemouth & Medway districts September 2002

Education director for City of Leeds Fuse Festival 2004, running a series of 50 workshops for secondary & primary schools, encouraging creativity in students with ambitious Theme & Variations project with final concert, also feat. Biggish Band & Jazzcotech Dancers, March 2004.

2005-present teaches saxophone, harmony and improvisation at the London College of Creative Media, an independent university offering a 3 year BMus music degree. Sits on the Board of Studies and assists in the design of some of the modules.


Winner, British Jazz Awards “BEST TENOR SAX” 1995 & 1997

Best Band Nominee, BBC Jazz Awards 2001 and 2002

Touring and session work with

Matt Bianco



Annie Lennox

Peter Gabriel

Pet Shop Boys

Salif Keita

Jimmy Smith

Well known TV signature themes

Eastenders (early 2000s)

Spitting Image

Solo Albums

1993 All Good Things (EFZ)

1994 Beats Working For A Living (recorded in New York and featuring Joey Calderazzo on piano, Joe Locke on vibes, James Genus on bass and Adam Nussbaum on drums) (EFZ)

Under The Stone (EFZ)

The Secret Ingredient (EFZ)

The Grinder’s Monkey (Short Fuse)

Big Shake Up by Dave O’Higgins’ Biggish Band (Big City)

Fast Foot Shuffle (Candid)

Push (Short Fuse) 

In the Zone (Jazzizit)

Sketch Book (with Eric Alexander)(Jazzizit)

2010 Relaxin’ At Mount Lavinia (JVG Productions)

2011 The Devil’s Interval (with Eric Alexander)(JVG Productions)

2012 Got The Real Note (Jazzizit) with the Gascoyne/O’Higgins Quartet

2013 Two Minds Big Band (JVG Productions)

2014 Standards (JVG Productions)

2014 The Real Note vol. 2 (Jazzizit) with the Gascoyne/O’Higgins Quartet

2015 The Abstract Truth Big Band (JVG Productions)

2016 Oh Gee! with Barnes / O’Higgins and the Sax Section (Woodville)

Other essential recordings

Jason Rebello: A Clearer View (BMG) produced by Wayne Shorter, 

Roadside Picnic: Roadside Picnic (BMG), For Madmen Only (BMG)

Itchy Fingers: Full English Breakfast (Enja)

Jim Mullen: Soundbites (EFZ), Rule of Thumb (EFZ)

Clark Tracey Sextet: Full Speed Sideways (33)

Martin Taylor: Spirit of Django (Linn), Years Apart (Linn), The Gypsy (Linn), 

Celebrating Grapelli (Linn)

Matthew Herbert: Goodbye Swingtime (Accidental Records)

There’s Me and There’s You (K7/Accidental Records)

Jamie Cullum: Pointless Nostalgic (Candid)   

The Loire Allstars (JVG Productions)

Countries toured

Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Cuba, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Mexico, Namibia, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, USA, UK, Venezuela

For further details

email: © Dave O'Higgins 2014