Higgins led two successful dates for United Artists in 1972. Though they vary only slightly, the first, Heavyweight, includes perhaps a greater range of tempos and moods. Best known among them is likely "Gotta Be Funky," which ultimately reached number 22 on the R&B charts and was Higgins' biggest hit as a solo artist. As can perhaps be deduced from the previous statement, these UA sessions are relatively commercial, so fans of more straight-ahead hard bop might want to stay away. On the other hand, Higgins' bag has always been soul and there's plenty of it here, regardless of his pop leanings. Listeners who enjoy Gene Harris' early-'70s material for Blue Note should note that Higgins produced those sessions, and many of the funky tendencies heard on Elegant Soul and Soul Symphony can be found here as well. In fact, Heavyweight took on a new life as a source for hip-hop samples beginning with Big Daddy Kane's "Ain't No Half Steppin'" in 1988. The Dust Brothers later bit the intro to "Up on the Hill" for use on Beck's 1996 album, Odelay. Higgins' alto sax work isn't likely to blow anyone away and the production can, at times, seem a little slick -- perhaps differentiating his work from that of Cannonball Adderley in the same period -- but fans of funky soul-jazz are sure to find at least a few gems on this enjoyable LP.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Brandon Burke