The world might never have discovered Ornette Coleman if not for Billy Higgins. That rare drummer who kept crisp time yet adapted smoothly to every spontaneous change, Higgins provided the link to tradition that early Coleman audiences wanted — it was no accident that, due to his alliance with Blue Note Records, he became the most recorded jazz drummer of all time. Higgins’ importance to Los Angeles’ jazz community can’t be overestimated; he forged longtime friendships here with jazz ambassadors such as Charles Lloyd and Don Cherry, and in 1989 founded (with poet Kamau DaĆ”ood) Leimert Park’s still functioning World Stage, which has showcased improvisers young and old, and provided a link to African roots via its drum workshops.

LA Creators