John Hicks (jazz pianist)

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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
Years active Mid-1960s–2006

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.

Early life[edit]

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]

Later life and career[edit]

Hicks was a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers (1964–1965). Afterwards he worked with Betty Carter (1966–1968, 1975–1980); Woody Herman (1968–1970); and was with Charles Mingus's sextet in the early 1970s. 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, Pharoah 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 survived him, and has led groups dedicated to his music.[4]


An asterisk (*) after the year indicates that it is the year of release.

As leader/co-leader[edit]

Year recorded Title Label Notes
1975 Hells Bells Strata-East Trio, with Clint Houston (bass), Cliff Barbaro (drums); released 1980
1975 Steadfast Strata-East Released 1980
1979 After the Morning West 54
1981 Some Other Time Theresa
1982 John Hicks Theresa Some tracks solo piano; some tracks trio, with Bobby Hutcherson (vibes), Walter Booker (bass); one track duo, with Olympia Hicks (piano); reissue by Evidence added one track trio, with Olympia Hicks, Idris Muhammad (drums)
1984 In Concert Theresa Most tracks trio, with Walter Booker (bass), Idris Muhammad (drums); some tracks quartet, with Elise Wood (flute) or Bobby Hutcherson (vibes) added; in concert
1985 Inc. 1 DIW
1985 Sketches of Tokyo DIW With David Murray
1985 Luminous Nilva With Elise Wood
1986–87 Two of a Kind Theresa Duo, with Ray Drummond (bass)
1987 I'll Give You Something to Remember Me By Limetree
1988 Naima's Love Song DIW With Bobby Watson
1988 East Side Blues DIW
1990 Power Trio Novus With Cecil McBee (bass), Elvin Jones (drums)
1990 Is That So? Timeless
1990 Live at Maybeck Recital Hall, Vol. 7 Concord Jazz Solo piano; in concert
1992 After the Morning DSM Solo piano; in concert
1993 Beyond Expectations Reservoir Trio, with Ray Drummond (bass), Marvin "Smitty" Smith (drums)
1994 Single Petal of a Rose Mapleshade With Jack Walrath (trumpet), Elise Wood (flute), Curtis Lundy (bass)
1994 Duality With Peter Leitch
1995 In the Mix
1995 Heart Beats Milestone As Keystone Trio; with George Mraz (bass), Idris Muhammad (drums)[5]
1996 Piece for My Peace Landmark Some tracks solo piano; one track trio, with Curtis Lundy (bass), Cecil Brooks III (drums); one track quintet, with Bobby Watson and Vincent Herring (alto sax) added; most tracks sextet, with Elise Wood (flute) added; one track duo, with Wood (flute)
1997 Newklear Music: The Songs of Sonny Rollins Milestone As Keystone Trio; with George Mraz (bass), Idris Muhammad (drums)[6]
1997 Something to Live For: A Billy Strayhorn Songbook HighNote Trio, with Dwayne Dolphin (bass), Cecil Brooks III (drums)
1997 Nightwind: An Erroll Garner Songbook HighNote Trio, with Dwayne Dolphin (bass), Cecil Brooks III (drums)
1997 Cry Me a River Venus Trio, with Dwayne Burno (bass), Victor Lewis (drums)
1997 Trio + Strings Mapleshade With Elise Wood (alto flute), Steve Novosel (bass), Ronnie Burrage (drums), Steve Williams (drums), Rick Schmidt (cello), Debbie Baker (viola), Charles Olive and Tom Ginsberg (violin)
1998 Impressions of Mary Lou HighNote Trio, with Dwayne Dolphin (bass), Cecil Brooks III (drums)
2000 Hicks Time: Solo Piano Passin' Thru Solo piano
2000 Beautiful Friendship HiWood Duo with Elise Wood (flute)
2001 Music in the Key of Clark HighNote Trio, with Dwayne Dolphin (bass), Cecil Brooks III (drums)
2003 Fatha's Day: An Earl Hines Songbook HighNote Trio, with Dwayne Dolphin (bass), Cecil Brooks III (drums)
2005 I Remember You HighNote Solo piano; in concert
2005 Twogether HighNote Duo with Frank Morgan (alto saxophone)
2006 On the Wings of an Eagle Chesky Trio, with Buster Williams (bass), Louis Hayes (drums)
2006 Sweet Love of Mine HighNote Some tracks quartet, with Javon Jackson (tenor sax), Curtis Lundy (bass), Victor Jones (drums); some tracks quintet, with Elise Wood (flute) added; some tracks sextet, with Ray Mantilla (percussion) added

As sideman[edit]

With Joe Lovano

With Eric Alexander

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

With Billy Bang

With Art Blakey

With Hamiet Bluiett

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 Sonny Fortune

With Chico Freeman

With Oliver Lake

With Hank Mobley

With Lee Morgan

With Tisziji Munoz

  • Visiting This Planet (Anami, 1980's)
  • Hearing Voices (Anami, 1980's)

With David Murray

With Pharoah Sanders

With Charles Tolliver

with Earl Grubbs - Carl Grubbs

(Cobblestone Records, 1972)


  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.". (June 24, 2001) The New York Times.
  5. ^ Allmusic Heart Beats review
  6. ^ Allmusic Newklear Music review

External links[edit]