John Hicks (jazz pianist)

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For other people named John Hicks, see John Hicks (disambiguation).
John Hicks
John Hicks.jpg
John Hicks in 2006
Background information
Birth name John Josephus Hicks, Jr.
Born December 21, 1941
Atlanta, Georgia, US
Died May 10, 2006(2006-05-10) (aged 64)
New York City, New York, US
Genres Hard bop, bebop, free jazz, modal jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, composer
Instruments Piano

John Josephus Hicks, Jr. (December 21, 1941 – May 10, 2006[1]) was an American jazz pianist and composer, active in the New York and international jazz scenes from the mid-1960s.


Hicks was born in Atlanta, Georgia. As a child, he moved with his family around the United States, as his father took up jobs with the Methodist church.[2] He began playing the piano aged seven; his development accelerated once his family moved to St. Louis, when Hicks was 14.[2] He studied music at Lincoln University in Missouri and Berklee School of Music in Boston before moving to New York in 1963, where he soon found employment with blues singer Big Maybelle.[2]

He was a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers (1964–1965) and occasionally in the 1970s, worked with Betty Carter (1966–1968, 1975–1980), and was in one of Woody Herman's groups (1968–1970). From 1972 to 1973 he taught jazz history and improvisation at Southern Illinois University.[3] From the early 1980s until his death he performed solo and led his own groups, including the Keystone Trio, with Idris Muhammad and George Mraz.

Hicks played and recorded with jazz artists such as Lee Morgan, David Murray, Joe Lovano, David "Fathead" Newman, Pharaoh Sanders, George Mraz, Arthur Blythe, Kenny Barron, and Gary Bartz among others. The pianist recorded the seventh instalment of the "Live at Maybeck Recital Hall" series of solo concerts, which were recorded for Concord Records.

From 1983, the flautist Elise Wood was regularly a member of his groups. The couple married in 2001. Wood survives him, and has led groups dedicated to his music.[4]


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Eric Alexander

  • Solid (1998)
  • Sunday in New York (2005)

With Art Blakey

With Hamiet Bluiett

  • Ebu (Soul Note, 1984)

With Bob Thiele Collective

  • Sunrise Sunset (1990)

With Gary Bartz

  • West 42nd Street (Candid, 1990)

With Lester Bowie

With Arthur Blythe

With Betty Carter

With Booker Ervin

With Chico Freeman

With Keystone Trio

  • Heart Beats (1996)[5]
  • Newklear Music: The Songs of Sonny Rollins (1997) [6]

With Hank Mobley

With Lee Morgan

With David Murray

With Pharoah Sanders

With Charles Tolliver


  1. ^ Allmusic biography
  2. ^ a b c Vacher, Peter (May 12, 2006) "John Hicks" The Guardian.
  3. ^ Feather, Leonard & Gitler, Ira (2007) The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz, p.317. Oxford University Press.
  4. ^ "Weddings; Elise Wood, John Hicks Jr.", New York Times, 24 June 2001
  5. ^ Allmusic Heart Beats review
  6. ^ Allmusic Newklear Music review

External links[edit]