John Hicks: Sweet Love Of Mine (2007)
This polite set effectively closes the recording chapter of the late pianist John Hicks' lifeand on an equally fundamental level, it might leave listeners ruing the fact that a lot of the music is simply made somewhat anonymous by the presence of too many musicians.
The opening "One Peaceful Moment" is given a wistfully melancholic reading, which in itself makes a sadly belated case for Hicks the composer, and when tenor player Javon Jackson joins Hicks for a duo reading of "I'll Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry," listeners are again treated to music which offers a definition of beauty, especially as both men show a deep instinct for manifesting lyricism through understatement.
When a sextet turns out for the title track, the music seems to lose that intensity, however. Jackson proves himself to be arguably too conversant with the modern mainstream, and in so doing loses some depth of character. Politeness is the key, just as it is with Ray Mantilla's percussion, which seems somehow surplus to requirements when a drummer of Victor Jones' calibre is taking care of rhythmic business.
Hicks is alone at the piano once again for "The Things We Did Last Summer," and again he manages to coax things out of the melody in a manner that seems to elude him elsewhere. "Sunset Blues," also given a solo piano reading, offers ample evidence of a different facet of his art. The quartet of Hicks, Jackson, Lundy and Jones serves up a reading of Lundy's "Hold It Down," which is also tantalising because it amounts to a working model of just how timeless this particular strand of the music can be when it's put across with love and evident relish.
But this doesn't alter the fact that about half the programme is far from memorable. If High Note had split it fifty-fifty between Hicks solo and Hicks in company with Jackson, however, we might just have had a most beautiful epitaph.
Track Listing: One Peaceful Moment; I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry; Sweet Love Of Mine; The Things We Did Last Summer; Once I Loved; Hold It Down; Mambo Influenciado; I Remember Clifford; Peanut Butter Two; Sunset Blues.
Personnel: Javon Jackson: tenor sax; John Hicks: piano; Curtis Lundy: bass; Victor Jones: drums; Elise Wood: flutes (3,7-9); Ray Mantilla: Percussion (3,5,7).