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This extremely versatile guitarist first picked up a guitar at the age of seven and has realized his dream of becoming a musician.  Due to his adaptability and knowledge of many musical styles, he is one of the most sought after players in Los Angeles.

 The Run-Off Groove #218: “Higgins has the kind of playing style that will make a lot of other guitarists want to return to their basements and start from scratch.”

Growing up, Higgins was influenced greatly by the Beatles, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, BB King and Buddy Guy. Higgins became mesmerized with jazz at the early age of 11 and listened to Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, George Benson, Pat Martino, Jim Hall, Miles Davis although John Coltrane was his major inspiration. At the age of 12, his brother, Ethan, took him to the Monterey Pop festival where he saw Jimi Hendrix and decided right then that he wanted to be a musician. After that, he became obsessed with practicing during all of his free time and embraced all musical styles.

At 15, Higgins was one of the youngest members to play in the Monterey Community College Jazz Band, under the direction of Don Schamber. In 1973, at the age of 17 he auditioned and won a position in the Monterey Jazz Festival High School All Star Band. While at the Monterey Jazz Festival, he had the privilege of playing with Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Max Roach, Mundell Lowe, Bill Watrous and Milt Jackson.

On the road with Maynard Ferguson for three years beginning in 1984, Michael recorded two CD’s with Maynard’s band, Body and Soul and High Voltage which are works that young people ask him about even today. The song, Jack Usage, written by Higgins and featured on the High Voltage CD, continues to be played on radio stations around the world.

An original and current member of the critically acclaimed group SHAPES, he composed the title tracks, as well as other songs, for both of their CD’s: The Last Farewell and The Big Picture. This group can be heard at venues in Southern California and has toured in Indonesia, where they played at the 2007 Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival.

Having had the privilege of performing with many of the best musicians and entertainers in the world, Higgins’ resume is extensive. The many influences include Freddie Hubbard Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinal, Joe Henderson, Charlie Parker, Hank Mobley, Igor Stravinsky, Claude Debussy, Fric Satie, J.S. Bach, Ludwig Von Beethoven, Paco De Lucia, Vicente Amigo, John McLaughlin Hank Williams, Wayne Shorter, John Scofield, John Abercrombie, Dale Ramey Joe Diorio, Ron Eschete, Hank Garland, Jan Garbarek, Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, Mike Stern, Bill Evans, Jeff Beck, Albert Lee, John Williams, Andrés Segovia, Julian Bream, Christopher Parkening, Chet Atkins, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and many others. *more information available in resume

As the consummate student, he is always learning and practicing to keep up with the many varied jobs which may come his way. Higgins’ wide arsenal of instruments include: mandolin, banjo, (tenor and plectrum), ukulele, slide, classical guitar, steel string acoustic, electric guitar, oud, twelve sting guitars (both electric and acoustic), high string guitar, baritone guitar, requinto guitar, and dobro. In addition, he is a master at electric guitar sounds and processors, and also plays many traditional Chinese instruments.

Higgins holds degrees from California State University Long Beach Bachelor of Arts in Performance, and a Masters in Music in Studio Jazz Guitar from USC. Today, in addition to playing, Higgins teaches at California State University Long Beach and Golden West College in Huntington Beach.
*more information available in resume

Higgins’ family has had a profound influence on him, and each member continues to be great role models as well as being very supportive. He says, “Without Ethan, Diane, Danny, and—most importantly—my mother believing in me, I would not be where I am today. My family is very brainy and soulful at the same time, I was a lucky child. My father died when I was three years of age and this left a deep impression on me, and my love for music and family. I do not take lightly to the word ‘no’ and I believe in achieving my goals. I have had difficult times in this business but have been blessed with friends and family who always believe in me. I thank God everyday for my blessings”. 

Click to view resume “…dishing out a slew of impressive riffs and solos…guitar work is crisp and gentle sometimes sounding like Wes Montgomery and at other times showing a bit of the Joe Pass influence...master guitarist and first-call sideman.” “a gently flowing style, one that at times reminds me of a less eclectic Bill Frisell…”