JJ 05/93: Dave O’Higgins – All Good Things

Thirty years ago, John Chadwick appreciated the musicality of the saxophonist's group while wishing for more standards and more variation. First published in Jazz Journal May 1993

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The title refers to one of seven originals by Dave O’Higgins on this date. Seven out of nine is a bit too much for my taste and most collectors deciding whether or not to try a new group seek the reassurance of a few familiar numbers.

This is not to disparage the quality of the music or the pro­fessionalism of this young group, who recorded this set just before the leader’s 28th birthday, after they’d completed a week at Ron­nie Scott’s Club.

O’Higgins is an inventive tenor and soprano player, whose general approach and relatively vibratoless tone rather recall Coltrane of the Giant Steps period. The opening Buzz is a crisp, up­tempo number on modal lines with fluent improvisations by O’Higgins to a driving rhythm sec­tion and his own Waltz For Anna Christina finds him in pensive, lyrical mood.

This is more or less the pattern for the rest of the disc, faster numbers juxtaposed with ballads, of which Coltrane’s Dear Lord comes out tops. I wasn’t so happy about the group’s view of Every Time We Say Goodbye. To my mind neither chord sequence nor overall mood of this song transfer well to uptempo treat­ment. I liked the funky four-square feel of No Prizes For Guessing, where Robin Aspland’s piano, with a few Timmons touches, and Alex Dankworth’s sprightly bass are also set off to advantage.

Good late bop, if just a shade unvaried, and I’d like to hear the group tackle some of the better standards. O’Higgins is seldom lost for ideas.

Discography
Buzz; Waltz For Anna Christina; No Prizes For Guessing; Incidently; Lost In The Post; Every Time We Say Goodbye; Dear Lord; Quids In; All Good Things Come To An End (53.60)
Dave O’Higgins (ts/bar); Robin Aspland (p); Alex Dankworth (b); Jeremy Storey (d). London, August 2, 1992.
(EFZ 1002)