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Album Review

Like so many straight-ahead jazz artists, John Hicks did his share of label-hopping in the '90s. Instead of recording for one company consistently, he would offer different projects to different labels. During the summer of 1990, the veteran pianist traveled to Monster, Holland, and recorded Is That So? for the Dutch Timeless label. It isn't uncommon for American jazz musicians to play or record with European improvisers when they travel overseas, but on this bop-oriented CD, Hicks forms an acoustic piano trio with two fellow Americans: bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Idris Muhammad. Both are fine musicians and both serve Hicks well at a session that emphasizes well-known standards. Not many surprises occur; most of the songs that the trio embraces are warhorses that have been recorded countless times over the years. "Yesterdays," "I'll Remember April," "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise," and "Autumn Leaves" are all great songs — that is undeniable — but even so, it would be nice to hear Hicks unearthing some gems that haven't been beaten to death. Nonetheless, one is inclined to be forgiving because he is such an appealing soloist. Is That So? (which Hicks produced himself) may not be the most challenging or chance-taking album of the improviser's career, but his lyrical, melodic pianism is still attractive. And his accompaniment isn't anything to complain about; no one will ever accuse Drummond or Muhammad (who was the quintessential soul-jazz drummer in the '70s) of not having major chops. Is That So? falls short of essential, but all things considered, it is an album that Hicks' hardcore fans will find to be pleasing and solid — warhorses and all.

Is That So, John Hicks Trio
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  • 8,99 €
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: 10 July 1990

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