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March 2000

John Hicks
Nightwind: An Erroll Garner Songbook
HighNote Records

In Nightwind, John Hicks, one of the most resourceful and soulful pianists in the idiom, raises tribute to Garner through his compositions. In many respects, this is the only way to go: Garner's style is that much tougher to emulate, in that it lacks the obvious gestures that Monk, for example, offers the disciple. Hicks is a very different pianist than Garner: his left hand carries subtle dynamic shadings, where Garner's was all about time. He shares with Garner a reverence for melody and a sense of musical destination that gives form to his improvisations. The repertoire includes the ever-fresh "Misty," but also includes "Paris Lover," a not-particularly-original melody on the changes to "Lover." More of the material is in "Misty"'s league, thankfully, including Hicks' unaccompanied "Tribute to EG," with which the recital opens. Dwayne Dolphin on bass and the tasty Cecil Brooks III on drums complete the trio settings that occupy most of the session.

Originally published in March 2000
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