David B. “Rusty” Higgins

Applied Instructor, Saxophone Studies
Director of Jazz Workshop
Phone: (562) 547-7717
Photo of David B. “Rusty” Higgins


David “Rusty” Higgins is an Akron, Ohio, native who attended Kent State University for four years as a bassoon major. He then traveled with different bands for five years before moving to Los Angeles, where he has served as a woodwind doubler (saxophone, clarinet, flute) for 34 years. His primary experience includes extensive recording of studio, theater, and jazz concert work. In addition to teaching at APU, he has taught master classes, clinics, and jazz workshops at high schools in California and Ohio, as well as at Kent State University and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. Higgins was previously a featured sax soloist with Les Brown’s Band of Renown. 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, and additional performance experience includes playing in the bands of Gordon Goodwin (Big Phat Band), Louis Bellson, Clark Terry (Montreux Jazz Festival), Ray Anthony, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Bill Holman, Bob Florence, Tom Kubis, Wayne Bergeron, Ralph Carmichael, Nelson Riddle, Jack Sheldon, Ray Charles (Hollywood Bowl), Buddy Miles, L.A. Rams Band, and others. Higgins has also recorded and/or performed with Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Mel Torme, Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Rosemary Clooney, Sting, Kenny G., Arturo Sandoval, Michael Bublé, Michael Feinstein, The Temptations, Diana Ross, Manhattan Transfer, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Cash, Avenged Sevenfold, and more.

Academic Area

  • School of Music (College of the Arts)


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

Courses Taught

  • MUS 183 – Jazz and Commercial Ensemble
  • MUS 332 – Woodwind Instrument Techniques
  • MUS 383 – Jazz and Commercial Ensemble