Tony Higgins & Mike Peden

Tony’s first forays into the world of records came around 1981 when, thinking himself very grown up in his first years at secondary school, he donned Sta Prest trousers and monkey boots and bought Two Tone and Jam singles. A few years later he discovered soul music via the classic sounds of Stax and Atlantic and, from there, moved into funk and rare groove. By 1990 Tony was living in London to attend University and there he immersed himself in the club scene, discovering new sounds at Talkin’ Loud, Funkin Pussy, the Blue Note and other legendary clubs.

After completing his postgraduate studies Tony worked for several years in record label/music management alongside artists, songwriters and leading rock, dance and pop producers including Mike Hedges, Arthur Baker and Rick Nowells. This led him to work with radio and club DJ Gilles Peterson, pulling together two volumes of the highly regarded ‘Impressed’ compilation albums of rare British jazz, and writing articles for the music press.
After leaving music management, Tony went to work at the BBC on landmark music TV documentaries such as ‘Jazz Britannia’ and ‘Seven Ages of Rock’.  Tony also produced’10 Commandments of Country’, a live concert filmed in Los Angeles with multi-Grammy winning legend Emmylou Harris. Not confined to just music, Tony’s TV work also included the award-winning series ‘British Style Genius’ that featured Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood alongside the finest tailors from Savile Row. As well as his journalistic endeavours, Tony works as a specialist music consultant to several labels including Universal Music, advising on reissues and archive projects and provides sleeve notes to reissues of rare albums.

Always keen to extend his knowledge and musical reach, over the past decade or so Tony has branched out into collecting and archiving rare blues and jazz from the 30s-50s, all on original shellac 78rpm discs. Along with a group of like-minded 78 obsessives, he forms part of the Shellac Collective, and has played out at summer festivals such as Bestival and Secret Garden Party, spinning jump blues, Cumbia, hot jazz and shuffle blues on vintage 78rpm records.
But there’s far more in Tony’s box than rare jazz and blues. He’s as happy spinning some Gene Clark cosmic country or Cory Hanson acoustic psych as he is pushing out Arabic disco, Ryley Walker’s trippy Americana or a crackly Johnny Clarke roots reggae 45.  His six hour DJ sets at London’s leading audiophile venues such as Spiritland and Brilliant Corners attest to his wide open musical vistas.

Given Tony’s broad and deep musical tastes, it was probably only a matter of time before he hooked up with BBE Records. Working with fellow Japanese jazz collector Mike Peden on a compilation of deep modal, spiritual and fusion jazz from Japan, Tony and Mike have delivered a landmark release: ‘J-Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz From Japan 1969-1984’. Drawn from their own extensive jazz collections, ‘J Jazz’ brings together some of the heaviest, rarest jazz recorded in Japan during a crucial period of musical and cultural transition.

Mike’s vinyl philosophy is that happiness is digging and satisfaction is finding. He started collecting records as a teen in the early 70s and amassed a huge collection of prog rock before selling the lot after getting into the mid-70s jazz funk scene, soon becoming a regular face at the all-dayers, weekenders and record shops which were associated with it. As part of a continuous desire to explore music, Mike started looking for a harder edged sound and found his way to Paul Murphy’s now legendary Electric Ballroom sessions followed by the Wag and the Sol Y Sombre sessions. Inspired by what he was listening and dancing to Mike joined forces with Bob Povey (Bump ‘n’ Hustle) to create Funky Fusion, a weekly session at Bournemouth’s infamous Midnight Express club. He continued to play hard core Latin and jazz at clubs on the south coast and, as his knowledge of the jazz dance scene and records grew, this prompted him to continue to expand an ever growing collection. He was soon buying and selling music to others and this it lit a travel bug to find new and rare records from all over the world.

To share his love of music, Mike started one of the leading jazz based online music blogs, Orgy in Rhythm.  Since is started, the blog has scored several million hits and has established itself as an online forum for collectors, DJs, fans and aficionados of all thing jazz. From hard Latin and soundtracks to funk and fusion, it has become a space  to meet and connect, to share music and exchange vinyl passions. It is through the connections Mike made via ‘Orgy in Rythm’ that he began to travel to Japan to explore the scene there. The J-Jazz compilation for BBE came about as a direct result of these Japanese record buying trips. Mike’s passion for and knowledge of Japanese jazz is evident in these deep and rare selections.

Mike is the resident DJ with Bob Hill for the monthly ‘Roasted Grooves Sessions’ and is music consultant for the weekly ‘Illicit Grooves Radio Show’, both on Starpoint Radio.


You might also like