May 11, 1906: The Trombone of J.C. Higginbotham
I don’t know of many jazz fans who associate the trombonist J.C. Higginbotham, born on May 11, 1906, with Boston.Higgy himself called NYC home, but Boston can lay some claim to him. He explained his relationship with Boston to DownBeat in 1959: “I went up there to play two weeks, and I stayed five years. It’s a good city, but it’s kind of drowsy. Everything is quiet. I had money and I wanted to leave many times, but I just didn’t do it. Finally, I played up at Dartmouth College, and said I was going to leave afterwards. I called Jack Crystal to find out about working in New York, and I came home.”
J.C. Higginbotham (the “J” is for Jack, or John, and the “C” remains a mystery) didn’t leave exact dates for his Boston residency, but his name is in newspaper advertisements between November 1950 and January 1955, and he could have arrived in Boston earlier.
He was no stranger to Boston prior to 1950. He was here as a member of the Fletcher Henderson and Chick Webb bands in the thirties, and quite often with Red Allen’s small group in the forties.
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