Joe Higham (Boston, UK, 1960)
Tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, B flat clarinets
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.
He has also played (or been involved) more recently with many groups. Some of these are : The Wrong Object, Marc Lelangue's Heavy Muffalettas, Eric Fusillier 4tet, PHP, Abdeli, Valve (featuring Bai Kamara jnr), Chris Menten's Jazz Van, and theatre group with Josse De Pauw, Jan Kuijken, Peter Vandenberghe, Pierre Vervloesem, Eric Thielemans and Angelique Willkie in Liefde.
He also studied Arabic music on the ney with Hamid Al Basri - one of the oldest and most respected teachers of Arabic music in Europe. This led to Joe spending more time playing the Arabic ney in the classical music ensemble based at the 'Centre Culturel Arabe'. He also became involved in the Jewish klezmer rock group 'Yiddish Tantz Rivayvele' (CD: Le Monde est un Village - Radio Nomade Vol 4. RTBF productions). These experiences eventually led to the creation of Joe's own group Al-Orkesta.
Joe also studied with Charlie Banacos until his untimely death in 2009. Following these courses kept new ideas and concepts developing in his playing, and at the same time helped maintain a certain discipline for practice routines.
In recent years Joe has spent more time developing improvised music projects such as OPen Source with Hugo Antunes, Augusto Pirroda and Jakob Warembol developing true collective in a group format. Joe has also been spending much time study electro acoustic composition, working with Roald Baudoux on a project known as The Man with the Glass Nose. This project develops the use of sound manipulation with live performance using Max/MSP and Pure Data along with live instruments and voice and also points to a new direction for possible perormance projects. Joe has been following workshops at the Mons University section known as Creactif-Numediart working on developing 'Pure Data' together with live music performance.
As a way of developing (and researching) his interest in the historical, anthropological and scientific aspects of music, Joe returned to university in 2012 to study an MA in musicology at the Catholic University of Louvain. He is specializing in the development of computers in music, archeoacoustics and the history of noise through the ages .... among other things!