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Joe Higham

Tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, B flat clarinet

After studying sculpture at the Brighton College of Art & Design he went to the CAT in Newcastle (now the Newcastle University) where he graduated in Light Music (nowadays called jazz). Several years later, whilst visiting friends and playing concerts in Brussels (1988), he discovered that the Brussels Conservatory was opening a new jazz section and decided to follow the courses -4 years- given by Belgian musicians such as Steve Houben, Jean Louis Rassinfosse and Bruno Castellucci, ending up with a first prize in saxophone and a diploma in Jazz Studies.

Whilst at the Brussels Conservatory, he naturally became involved in the Brussels jazz scene, playing with many of the local musicians who were heavily centered around two places 'Travers' and 'The Kaai'. These clubs were a central meeting point for jam sessions and in the case of the Kaai more experimental music. It was here that Joe was able to meet and play with such players as, Hein Van De Geyn, Eric Legnini, Phillip Aerts, Bo Vanderwerf, Sebastiaan De Krom. During that period he also studied with John Roucco, one of the father figures of modern saxophone in Belgium and Holland.

After the Conservatory, Joe started playing with many different groups -jazz group Francois Decamps 'Hamp Digs Ham', local brass band 'Combo Belge', blues-soul group 'Odex Protocole' (see projects page for more info), punk- jazz group (with Geoff Leigh of Henry Cow), 'The Morton Fork Gang', and the m-base influenced Thomas & Co, formed by actor/singer Olivier Thomas around the rhythm section of Aka Moon (CDs include: 'Singulier des Pluriels' and 'Le Second Soufle De Josaphat') and the collective trio 'The Jazz Project', which played in residency at the Brussels 'Phil's Bar' for two years.

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The Al Orkesta mixes folk and ethnic music with jazz and rock elements, leaving lots of room for the soloist's creativity. The quintet is made up of the leader Jo Higham (tenor sax, clarinet), the trumpet player Jean-Paul Estiévenart, the guitarist Jacques Pirotton, the bass- player Olivier Stalon and the drummer Setphan Pougin. Traditional music from Turkey (”House of the Marriage”) Syria (”Sal Fi-na Al-Lahda”) and Israel (”Sphil-Zhe Mir A Lidele”) form the thematic starting point upon which the musicians improvise to their heart's content. A conspicuous role is set aside for Pirotton's electric guitar, so that the music in addition to folk and jazz can also be called rock

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Primary Instrument




Willing to teach

Intermediate to advanced


Newcastle College of Arts & Technology (Degree in Light Music) Brussels Consevatory (Degree in Jazz Music) Teaching at the Jazz Studio (Antwerp) Clinics in Holland and Belgium. Workshop coming up in Mouscron (Nr Lille) 26/08/09


The Blind Night...

Discus Music


Where Are We Now?

Mogno Music


House of the Marriage

From: Where Are We Now?
By Joe Higham


Jamie Cullum
voice / vocals
Helen Abbey
voice / vocals

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