David B. “Rusty” Higgins


Applied Instructor, Saxophone Studies; Director of Jazz Workshop

David “Rusty” Higgins is an Akron, Ohio native, attended Kent State University for four years as a bassoon major. He then toured with different bands for five years before moving to Los Angeles, serving as a woodwind doubler (saxophone, clarinet, flute) since 1976. Primary experience includes studio recordings, theater, and jazz concert work. In addition to teaching at APU, he has taught master classes, clinics, and jazz workshops at schools in CA, Ohio, Shanghai Conservatory of Music, etc. Higgins was the featured sax soloist with Les Brown’s Band of Renown for over 30 years. Played on Bob Hope's TV specials for 17 years. He joined Captain & Tennille in 1979 and served as Toni Tennille’s symphony orchestra conductor beginning in 1984, conducting more than 70 orchestras. He played for both of Ronald Reagan’s presidential inaugural balls. Played on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and Jay Leno. Additional performance experience includes playing in the bands of Arturo Sandoval, Gordon Goodwin (Big Phat Band), Louis Bellson, Clark Terry (Montreux Jazz Festival), Toshiko Akiyoshi, Bill Holman, Bob Florence, Tom Kubis, Wayne Bergeron, Ralph Carmichael, Nelson Riddle, Jack Sheldon, Ray Charles (Hollywood Bowl), Buddy Miles, and others. Higgins has recorded and/or performed with Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand, Elton John, Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Mel Torme, Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Rosemary Clooney, Sting, Kenny G., Michael Bublé, Michael Feinstein, The Temptations, Diana Ross, Manhattan Transfer, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Cash, Barry Manilow, Avenged Sevenfold, L.A. Phil, Pacific Symphony, Long Beach Symphony, Pasadena Pops, and more. Rusty and his wife, Georgia, own Long Beach Woodwinds (and Brass).

Academic Area

  • School of Music (College of the Arts)


  • Woodwind Instruction and Doubling
  • Saxophone
  • Contemporary Orchestration
  • Jazz Band and Improvisation

Courses Taught

  • MUS 183 – Jazz and Commercial Ensemble
  • MUS 332 – Woodwind Instrument Techniques
  • MUS 383 – Jazz and Commercial Ensemble
  • MUS 1W1 - Applied Sax