FAME Review: Paul Higgs - Pavane
Paul Higgs - Pavane


Paul Higgs

Toucan Tango Music - TTML016

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Pavane by trumpeter/pianist Paul Higgs is a beautiful CD firmly based in a classicalist progressivity all too rare and often too spavined in New Agey efforts. In that realm, frequently the delicacies and thoughtfulness of hoary yesteryears are eschewn for banal simplicities robbing cerebrally fashioned opuses of their filigreed gravities…but not here. A good deal of pastoral jazz also pervades Pavane, and I'm oft reminded of Chuck Mangione's or John Clark's work as each cut unfolds. But let's not scamp on a secondary instrument in this satiny oeuvre: Higgs is also a marvelous pianist, and I doubt anyone could comp him better than himself, as is abundantly shown on each track. Just mouth-watering.

The Glow of Evening carries a sentimental Send in the Clowns melody, as though indeed an extension and variation of that and perhaps a bit of Dvorak's Going Home. Every note is perfect, well chosen, and evocative of precisely what the title denotes: the fading of the sun, the onset of velvet night, a mellowing into slumber hours. Then, though it isn't credited as such, the title track is indeed taken from Ravel's Pavane pour une Infante Defunte, a cut carrying off into Higgs' variations a la a brainy Herb Alpert. Its follower, Clocks—with an engaging metronomic click track, something Alan Parsons might have come up with—kind of steps over to a Jean-Luc Ponty composition, minus violin but imbued with the same élan.

Pavane somewhat follows in the tradition of a set of LPs put out by Thijs van Leer (Focus) and Roger Otterloo in the 70s through the 90s (and which ended up more popular than at first was thought might be the case, selling a million copies), though Higgs' pastoralism is vastly more pronounced. Through the years, he's played with a multitude of music greats—Rosemary Clooney, John Williams, Shorty Rogers, Alan Price, Peggy Lee, and many more too numerous to cite but has also been musical director for the National Theater of Great Britain, with contributions to the Royal Shakespeare Company. Elsewhere, though you wouldn't guess it by the much quieter virtues here, he's paid homage to such rebellious characters as Karlhaus Stockhausen and Conlon Nancarrow, so perhaps that explains why his mastery is as it is: he knows exactly what is and what isn't incorporate in any mode, whereas too many other composers are guessing at best. Wisdom always carries within itself more than is readily apparent.

Track List:

  • Crystalline
  • The Glow of Evening
  • A Simple Truth
  • Parisienne Affair
  • Catalonia
  • Pavane
  • Clocks
  • Vale and Valley
  • Salvation
  • Shadows and Desire
  • Song of the Siren
All songs written by Paul Higgs…well, that's what the CD says anyway, but we'll note that Pavane is actually 'Ravel / Higgs' and thoughtfully move quietly on.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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