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December 1999

John Hicks
Something to Live For
HighNote Records

One of the more reliable and agreeably refreshing sounds in jazz piano is that of John Hicks, a man who as an infant must have leapt out of the womb swinging; consistency, thy name is John Hicks. For this program of largely Strayhorn tunes, Hicks has returned to the birthplace for Strayhorn, Pittsburgh, PA, where this was recorded. The Pittsburgh flavor extends to his choice of trio mates as he engages that constant energy source of the drums, Cecil Brooks lll (who also produced the date), and Dwayne Dolphin on bass.

The material, including the opening title track, given a Latin lilt by Brooks' clever kit work, is a fine stroll through familiar Strayhorn terrain that pays substantial dividends. The gems include the heavy "Blood Count," which is invested in a bit more sunlight here courtesy of its medium tempo arrangement; "Daydream," "Chelsea Bridge," the exquisite "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing," "Passion Flower," "UMMG," and Hicks throws in his own "Minor Blues" for solid measure.

Originally published in December 1999
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