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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Sweet Love of Mine

HighNote HCD 7142



1. One Peaceful Moment
2. I Guess I`ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry
3. Sweet Love Of Mine
4. The Things We Did Last Summer
5. Once I Loved
6. Hold It Down
7. Mambo Influenciado
8. I Remember Clifford
9. Peanut Butter Two
10. Sunset Blues
John Hicks – Piano
Javon Jackson – Tenor sax
Elise Wood – Flute (tracks 3, 7-9)
Curtis Lundy – Bass
Victor Jones – Drums
Ray Mantilla – Percussion (tracks 3, 5, 7, 9)

John Hicks was never exactly a household name, even among most jazz fans. Yet, since his death on 10 May 2006, we may start to realise just how good he was. He had played piano in all kinds of contexts – from Art Blakey to Lester Bowie, from Betty Carter to Arthur Blythe, and from Billy Bang to Woody Herman. His versatility is evident in this album, his final recording.

The opening track, his own composition One Peaceful Moment, illustrates his individual qualities. Alone at the piano, he picks his way delicately through the tune. Every note and chord is thoughtful, considered – with a clarity that lets us hear every nuance. This clarity is audible on every track. Another side of the man can be heard in items like the title-track and Mambo Influenciado: Latin-American excursions spiced by the percussion of Ray Mantilla. Hold It Down – a Curtis Lundy original – proves that Hicks can also play straightforward swing with the best.

Javon Jackson’s saxophone adds greatly to the appeal of this CD – tender in I Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry; muscular on the title-track; heart-tugging in Once I Loved; almost Coltraneish on Peanut Butter Two. The flute of Elise Wood (John Hicks’s wife) adds a contrasting voice, although it sounds rather tremulous stating the melody of I Remember Clifford. The closing Sunset Blues is a suitable valediction: a solo piano performance in which John’s discerning clarity illuminates a simple blues.

So farewell, John Hicks. You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. But it is estimated that John appeared on 300 recording sessions, including more than 20 under his own name, so there is plenty to remember him by.

Tony Augarde

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