Billy Higgins Movies
One of the co-founders of Ornette Coleman's revolutionary free jazz movement, jazz drummer Billy Higgins worked with some of the biggest names, including Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, and Dexter Gordon.
Born in Los Angeles in October 1936, Higgins, an extremely adaptable drummer who began banging the skins as a child, became one of the jazz movement's most frequently recorded drummers in addition to becoming a fixture in the L.A. jazz scene. With his sophisticated beats gracing the seminal recordings of Coleman (notably the Free Jazz album), Higgins soon began to freelance with legendary artists such as Thelonius Monk and Donald Byrd. He served as songwriter for the 1954 film Playgirl, in addition to appearing in such films as 1986's 'Round Midnight and Sass and Brass: A Jazz Session (1988).
After undergoing a successful liver transplant in the mid-'90s Higgins' work became less frequent. Plagued with further liver complications into the new millennium, Higgins died while awaiting a second liver transplant in May 2001. He was 64. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
- Add Ron Carter and Art Farmer: Live at Sweet Basil to Queue
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Two of the most respected artists in jazz, bassist Ron Carter and trumpet and flugelhorn player Art Farmer, appeared on stage together for the first time in 1990 during a show at New York's prestigious jazz venue Sweet Basil, and a camera and sound crew was on hand to capture this historic event for the ages. With drummer Billy Higgins and pianist Cedar Walton rounding out the ensemble, Ron Carter and Art Farmer: Live at Sweet Basil features this stellar quartet performing "It's About Time," "When Love Is New," "Shortcomings," "My Funny Valentine," and more. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie, and Chuck Mangione are the stars in this performance at the historic Storyville club in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Once part of the infamous red-light district of the city, Storyville has hosted many of the great names in music. To the delight of the live audience, Ms. Vaughan sings some of her sultriest tunes, while Mangione and Gillespie perform some bebop classics, including "Take the "A" Train" and "Watermelon Man." ~ Rose of Sharon Winter, Rovi
- Don Cherry, Maynard Ferguson, (more)
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A French music lover befriends a once-great American jazz artist and attempts to save him from self-destruction in this moody drama. Saxophonist Dexter Gordon portrays Dale Turner, a fictional musician inspired by a number of famed jazz figures, including Bud Powell and Lester Young. Largely forgotten in his home country, Turner has moved to Paris in search of a more appreciative audience. He finds it in the form of Francis Borler (Francois Cluzet), a bebop aficionado who befriends the expatriate player. Borler soon becomes familiar with Turner's darker side, including his struggles with alcoholism, drug addiction, and depression. Fearing for the musician's life, the fan becomes his caretaker, an arrangement that leads to a brief improvement in Turner's health and fortunes but places great emotional strain upon them both. Director Bertrand Tavernier pays great attention to the visual and aural details of the jazz world, with outstanding musical supervision provided by Herbie Hancock. 'Round Midnight's greatest asset, however, is Gordon's Academy Award-nominated performance, informed by his own life experiences. His naturally fascinating presence combines with the film's obvious love of the music and its milieu to provide what many have hailed as one of the more authentic and affectionate presentations of the jazz world on the silver screen. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi
- Dexter Gordon, François Cluzet, (more)
Shelley Winters was still in the sex-symbol phase of her career when she headed the cast of Universal's Playgirl. Ms. Winters plays Fran, a nightclub vocalist whose main squeeze is married publisher Mike Marsh (Barry Sullivan). When Mike makes a play for new employee Phyllis Matthews (Colleen Miller), the jealous Fran shoots him down. The ensuing scandal ruins Phyllis' reputation, whereupon she, and not Fran, becomes the libertine $100-dollar-a-night playgirl of the title. When Phyllis' life is endangered by gangsters, Fran unexpectedly comes to her rescue. Though dealing with a censorable subject, Playgirl manages to stay within the bounds of good taste, for better or worse. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
- Shelley Winters, Barry Sullivan, (more)