Largely pastel-hued and softly intoned, the 12 piano solos documented here by John Hicks include only two numbers not of his own devising, the balladic “Reminds Me,” which title is omitted from the trayback listing, and the bouncy, blues informed “Jest a Little,” both the work of reedman Oliver Lake, who also functions as session co-producer. Hicks’ own melodic and harmonic sense, as perceived on “Naimi’s Love Song,” “Peanut Butter,” the quickly paced and swinging “Hicks Time,” “April Eyes,” Redd’s Blues,” a tribute to friend and fellow pianist Freddie Redd, “Two Hearbeats,” “Heart to Heart,” “Steadfast,” and “After the Morning,” ranges from the lush 19th century Romantic tradition through the vast-American-plains spaciousness of Aaron Copeland, while also ingenoiusly incorporating the swinging phrasing of classic jazz and the challenging twists and turns of post-bop, as epitomized by longtime influence John Coltrane.
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