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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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Mind Wine

Savant SCD 2096



1. Mind Wine
2. After The Morning
3. Blues in the Pocket
4. Heart to Heart
5. Yemenja
6. Naima's Love Song
7. Avotcja
8. Single Petal of a Rose
Elise Wood-Hicks - Flute, alto flute
Larry Willis - Piano
Curtis Lundy - Bass (tracks 1-7)
Steve Williams - Drums (tracks 1-7)
Craig Handy - Soprano sax, tenor sax (tracks 1-3, 5-7)
Eddie Henderson - Trumpet (tracks 4-6)


Pianist John Hicks played for Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in the mid-sixties and he also played with such people as saxists Johnny Griffin, Arthur Blythe and Pharaoh Sanders, and singers Betty Carter and Della Reese. When John Hicks died in 2006, his widow, flautist Elise Wood-Hicks, collaborated with pianist Larry Willis to form a band to keep John's memory - and his compositions - alive. Hence this album, which contains seven of John's compositions plus Duke Ellington's Single Petal of a Rose.

Despite John Hicks's indisputable talent as a pianist and the undoubted sincerity of this tribute band, it may not convince the listener of John's prowess as a composer, because few of the tunes are particularly memorable - at least, not to me. For instance, Blues in the Pocket has a title which implies catchy funkiness, but it is actually an unsettling roller-coaster of a tune, although Craig Handy's tenor solo injects some bluesy funk into it. On the other hand, After the Morning is an attractive waltz, with Craig Handy contributing another impressive solo, this time on soprano sax.

Trumpeter Eddie Henderson joins in for three tracks, at times resembling a rather strangled Miles Davis, although his solo on Naima's Love Song is more integrated and mellow (it sounds as if he's playing a flugelhorn here, not a trumpet). The final track, Single Petal of a Rose, is a flute and piano duet, recalling the similar performance by Mr and Mrs Hicks on an album with the same title. It is certainly touching, but the immediate appeal of the simple melody contrasts with the mostly less accessible compositions by John Hicks.

Larry Willis is, as so often, a supportive pianist - and he was presumably responsible for all the arrangements, although the sleeve only credits him as the pianist.

Tony Augarde


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