AN American, an Irishman and two Englishmen walked into a recording studio…No, I am not about to come up with a hilarious punchline (I wish I could), but I am going to tell you that an exciting jazz quartet is coming to Taunton this Autumn.

Saxophonist Dave O’Higgins, jazz guitarist Rob Luft, organist Scott Flanigan and drummer Rod Youngs are coming to the Creative Innovation Centre in Taunton on September 13.

We spoke to Dave ahead of the tour to find out how his passion for drums eventually led him to a love of jazz music.

At the ages of seven, he started to learn to play the trumpet but found it a hard instrument to learn from a young age. At the age of nine, Dave learnt to play the drums and was a huge fan of John Bonham, the drummer from Led Zeppelin.

At 11, Dave did his first professional gig at Derby Engineers Club, as part of an organ and drum duo that backed cabaret artists.

When Dave became more interested in music, he began to play the piano at school and at the age of 15 he got a saxophone - this started his jazz career.

Dave said: “I love the saxophone because it is very close to a human voice. It is one of the most expressive musical instruments there is.

“The saxophone is so personal. I can recognise the style of anyone I know after just 2 or 3 notes. It could be the same music but different people playing and I would know who was playing.

“I also loved jazz music and the saxophone was a big part of jazz music, especially for people like Charlie Parker and John Coltrane.”

Somerset County Gazette:

Jazz guitarist Rob eventually got in touch with Dave and suggested collaborating. The interaction, shared sensibilities and deeply held mutual respect made the pair an instant success.

Dave explained: “It was quite casual really. Jazz musicians tend to get together with anyone who is free on a particular date. Everyone turns up and then you discuss the music 20 minutes before you go on stage. Jazz musicians have several tunes that they already know.

“Rob called and suggested a few gigs. We had an immediate rapport and eventually what was meant to be a short tour turned into 40 gigs. Everyone we ended up calling said yes!”

Both Rob and Dave knew quite a few Monk and Coltrane tunes and so when they played together, they always ended up gravitating towards these composers.

Dave added: “We ended up delving deeper and playing tunes of theirs that we don’t normally play. We ended up putting our own spin on those tunes and this gave the project a unifying concept.”

Monk wrote about 75 songs and Coltrane played many as well as composed many, so Dave and Rob have looked at hundreds of pieces of music and learnt a lot of songs. They have changed a few to make them their own and are now releasing an album on October 4.

Dave said: “My ambition is that after 40 gigs we will have played all of Monks songs. They are all quirky with one kind of theme. However, Monk did like one particular tempo and so we decided to break up some of the music with sections from Coltrane’s music. Every time you play a piece of jazz music it turns out differently."

Somerset County Gazette:

The new album, called O’Higgins and Luft Play Monk and Trane, is a collection of songs by both Monk and Coltrane. Dave admitted that his favourite is the first song on the album, Naima, which was a really nice soundscape.

Dave added: “For the album, we also unearthed a Monk tune that no one ever plays. I think we found something called unidentified piano piece which we tried and have now renamed Dreamland.”

During their autumn tour, the quartet will be performing a variety of these songs – and hopefully they will manage to fulfil Dave’s ambition to get through all Monk’s songs.

Dave explained: “Every time you perform a piece, it is different. Sometimes it can be frustrating but most of the time its good. As a jazz performer, you tend to feed on energy from the audience and you want everyone to want to be there. We can also tailor what we play based on the reaction of the audience and we have had some fantastic nights.

“Sometimes we might only give 80% during our performances, which sounds like a lot – but to us its not. We want to be giving 110% every night! So please come along to the gig in Taunton, be enthusiastic and we will give 110%.”

See Dave and the rest of the quarter at the Creative Innovation Centre in Taunton on September 13 at 8pm. To book visit or call 01823 337477.