As a soloist with the West German Radio Orchestra he continued performing throughout Europe and the USA and in 1979 was appointed Head of Jazz studies at Cologne University College of Music, the first appointment of its kind in Germany. He is currently Professor and Head of Jazz Studies at the Hanns Eisler College of Music in Berlin, also Artistic and Musical Director of the Berlin Radio Orchestra, the Rias Big Band. Admired and respected throughout the world as one of the great performers and teachers, Jiggs Whigham spends much of his time in the air commuting between Berlin, Bonn (his German home) and Cape Cod (his American home) and a continuous round of engagements world-wide.
My first reaction on being invited to contribute to Tip From The Top was: There must be some mistake here, they've asked the wrong guy! This has nothing to do with false modesty, rather something which has been an important part of my concept for a very long time. You see, I have no image of myself as being 'on top' ... never have and hopefully never will. It truly surprises me that I have had the good fortune to make my living doing something which brings me such joy.
The gift of music was given to me. The possibilities of enhancing this gift through music lessons were given to me. The opportunities to play and be recognised by my peers and the public were given to me. All I have done over the years is to try to be worthy of these gifts. I try to do this by attempting to fulfil my responsibility by serving the music (as player, teacher and conductor) and hard work.
By attempting to put the music first and not trying to serve my own ego-oriented goals, many 'problems' do not occur. For example, if I'm totally involved with making the music sound as beautiful and passionate and strong as possible, there's no room left to worry about whether 'I' might miss a note, or how the audience will perceive 'my' performance. In other words, total involvement in serving the music leaves no room for negative thoughts to clutter the concept. This, by the way. is something which has to be practised on a regular basis. It is not something which one suddenly stumbles upon.
One more important point. The word music itself draws from the source 'Muse'. In my opinion this is often overlooked in that we often tend to equate the making of music with something which also had its roots in ancient Greece, the Olympics. I do not wish to negate the prowess of artists possessing superior technique - not at all. It must, however, be made clear that technique is something which can (and should) be pursued and mastered. A Muse, similar to a butterfly, can be pursued and enjoyed, but never captured and owned.