Paul Higgs: Summer Lullaby

Well-travelled trumpeter Higgs (NYJO, National Theatre and more) plays a set of mellifluous originals with a band featuring Chris Ingham

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Versatile trumpeter and composer Paul Higgs is equally adept at playing jazz, classical or contemporary music. For many years he was the National Theatre’s musical director during which time he also also worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Amongst many others, he’s performed with Peggy Lee, Johnny Dankworth, Al Martino, John Williams, Nancy Wilson, Shorty Rogers, Lulu, Sir Peter Maxwell Davis and the BBC Philharmonic and has composed and arranged music for numerous films and television shows. As well as trumpet, Higgs played piano, guitar and bass for 11 years in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and served as their composer and arranger.

I had the pleasure of seeing him perform seven years ago with Chris Ingham’s quartet in their Jazz of Dudley Moore tribute concert at Swansea Jazz Festival, with Ingham on piano, Geoff Gascoyne on bass and George Double on drums. I observed in my review at the time that Higgs’s trumpet playing was “particularly remarkable”. It’s a description that holds true today in Summer Lullaby, a set he recorded with his own band, Pavane. It follows his initial recording of the band, the eponymous Pavane, released in 2022.

Alongside Higgs on trumpet, Pavane currently comprises Ingham on piano, Andy Watson on guitar, Natalie Rozario on cello, Jerome Davies on bass and George Double on drums plus guest percussionist Graham Cuttill. All pieces on the album bar one are originals composed and arranged by Higgs. The exception is Bacharach and David’s This Guy’s In Love With You, memorably recorded by Herb Alpert in 1968. Try Higgs’ and Pavane’s take on this here.

Blending soft jazz rhythms with classical music, all the compositions on Summer Lullaby are melodious, contemplative, often wistful and at times melancholic. In Paul Higgs’ own words, the album has “summer’s tranquility at its heart”. This is blue-chip trumpet playing with a top quality band. It comes highly recommended.

Discography
Lights Of Canary Wharf; Samba Baroque; This Guy’s In Love With You; Irresistible Touch; Berceuse d’Été; Icicles; Seville; Nocturne In Blue; Whisper Of Spring; Solstice; Reflections Of You (44.46)
Higgs (t); Chris Ingham (p); Andy Watson (g); Natalie Rozario (clo); Jerome Davies (b); Graham Cuttill (pc); George Double (d). UK, 2023.
Toucan Tango Music TTML018