EFG London Jazz Festival 2022

O’Higgins & Luft “Pluto” Ubuntu

Event Has Passed

Last Show: Tuesday 15 th November 2022

PizzaExpress Jazz Club (Soho)

Saxophonist Dave O’Higgins & guitarist Rob Luft now present their 2nd co-led recording three years after 'O’Higgins & Luft Play Monk & Trane'. Where the first album clearly did what it says on the tin, 'Pluto', as the title suggests, comes from another place. Seven of the 9 songs are originals, and the remaining two are Monk & Trane hits from the 40-plus date tour in 2019 that evolved on the road. The sonority has changed a little, too, with the Hammond organ of before replaced with piano and bass. This is straight-ahead modern jazz in the African-American tradition, clearly coming from the Monk and Trane lineage, but not bound to emulating it. You will hear Luft easily morphing Wes Montgomery with Bill Frisell, his own trademark soundscapes and worldly influences, while O’Higgins’ emotive melodies evoke Dexter, Trane, Joe Henderson and Brecker, with a melodic logic of his own.

Ross Stanley began playing with the band on organ when the logistics of Scott Flanigan travelling from Northern Ireland were unsustainable. Equally adept on piano, this instrument was chosen for “Pluto”. This opened up a place for the exciting sound of Misha Mullov-Abbado on bass. American drummer, Rod Youngs, so integral to the vibe of the band on the 2019 tour, completes the lineup. 

Saxophonist Dave O’Higgins has 24 albums as leader to his credit. The last Ubuntu release “That’s the Way to Live” (2021) has had great reviews in the Observer, Jazzwise, BBC Magazine & many online jazz sites. In 2017 “It’s Always 9:30 in Zog” was nominated for best CD (British Jazz Awards) & Dave for best tenor saxophonist. O’Higgins & Luft were nominated for best band in 2020 Parliamentary Jazz Awards.

Dave serves on the faculty at the London College of Contemporary Media. He currently performs with the Harvey / O’Higgins Project, O’Higgins & Luft, Darius Brubeck Quartet, and the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra. In addition, Dave worked with Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Joey Calderazzo, Joe Locke, Dave Kikowski, Eric Alexander, Max Ionata, Joe Lovano, Phil Woods, Jimmy Smith, Nancy Wilson, Wayne Shorter, Eddie Gomez, Billy Childs, Abdullah Ibrahim, Jim Mullen, Martin Taylor and Stephane Grappelli. Dave also wrote and produced the 2017 Matt Bianco album, “Gravity” and tours with the band as saxophonist & musical director.

Dave’s saxophone sound and language draw from deep respect for Dexter, Stitt, Coltrane, Mobley, Turrentine and Brecker amongst a host of other inspirations from early on to the present day.

“A stunning player in the neo-bop vein, with an apparently effortless flow of coherent ideas, beautiful time and a highly developed harmonic sense.” JAZZ GUIDE

 “His professional presentation was an object lesson to the amateurishness of local players.  His musicianship seemed boundless.  Like his friend Martin Taylor did last year to our guitarists, Dave O’Higgins did to our sax players – gave them new and exciting challenges.  And gave us mere listeners an exceptional night.” ADELAIDE ADVERTISER, AUSTRALIA

“O’Higgins plays with quite exceptional fluency and his fund of ideas never runs out.” The OBSERVER


Rob Luft is an award-winning 28-year-old jazz guitarist from London whose virtuosity has been compared to that of six-string legends John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola & Paco De Lucia. He was the recipient of the 2016 Kenny Wheeler Prize from the Royal Academy of Music, and he also received the 2nd Prize in the 2016 Montreux Jazz Guitar Competition at Montreux Jazz Festival. His debut album, “Riser”, was released on Edition Records in 2017 to widespread acclaim from the European jazz media. John Fordham wrote in The Guardian that it’s a “very sophisticated debut, but given Luft’s old-soul achievements since his early teens, we should have heard it coming”. Subsequently, on the back of the success of his first album, Rob was nominated for a string of awards – Breakthrough Act in the 2018 Jazz FM Awards, Instrumentalist of the Year in the 2020 Parliamentary Jazz Awards and Instrumentalist of the Year in the 2019 Jazz FM Awards. In May 2019, Rob was selected as a BBC New Generation Jazz Artist. His eagerly-awaited second album, “Life is the Dancer”, was released in April 2020 on Edition Records to critical acclaim. Despite the intermittent global lockdowns of 2020, Rob made his debut appearance on the legendary German jazz label ECM Records with the album “Lost Ships, a collaborative effort with Swiss-Albanian singer Elina Duni, and this was nominated in the ‘International Album of the Year’ category in the 2021 German Jazz Prize.

Concert highlights for Rob include performances with artists including Django Bates, Loose Tubes, The Cinematic Orchestra, Gregory Porter, & Manu Katché. Rob is a regular member of a multitude of some of London’s finest modern jazz groups, such as John Surman’s Quartet, the Chris Batchelor/Steve Buckley quintet & the Iain Ballamy Quintet. Additionally, his playing has been documented on a wide variety of albums over the past five years on famed jazz labels such as ECM Records, Edition Records, Ropeadope, Linn Records, and many more. 

"Guitar virtuoso makes enticingly vivacious debut" THE GUARDIAN (UK)

"...a singular talent, a fluent improviser and a composer of catchy, earthy, infectiously upbeat tunes. There are echoes of west African high-life, English folk, indie rock and various strands of contemporary jazz, but Luft’s sound is joyously original, robust and in-your-face..." THE IRISH TIMES (IRE) 

“So young and so talented!” Jamie Cullum, BBC RADIO 2 (UK)

“With Riser, Luft has produced a debut album of remarkable originality, strong compositions and he’s assisted by a formidable quartet of musicians whose natural sensibilities and talents only serve to enhance the project.” All About Jazz (USA)

Band Line Up

Dave O’Higgins (tenor saxophone)

Rob Luft (guitar)

Ross Stanley (piano)

Misha Mullov-Abbado (bass)

Rod Youngs (drums)