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Beyond Expectations

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Album Review

John Hicks was 51 when, in 1993, he recorded Beyond Expectations for the independent Reservoir label, and at that age no one was demanding that the veteran pianist reinvent the jazz wheel. However, it wasn't unreasonable to ask that he show some imagination when it came to choosing material. Some of Hicks' '90s albums placed too much emphasis on overdone warhorses, and that is true of Beyond Expectations. Leading an acoustic piano trio that employs Ray Drummond on bass and Marvin "Smitty" Smith on drums, Hicks doesn't offer a lot of surprises. Most of the songs that he embraces (which range from Horace Silver's "Peace" to "There Is No Greater Love" and "Every Time We Say Goodbye") have been recorded time and time again over the years. But while this CD isn't very adventurous, it is still solid and enjoyable. Yes, Hicks is too reliant on warhorses, and instead of yet another version of "Stella by Starlight," how about surprising listeners with some less-obvious choices? How about finding the hard bop/post-bop possibilities in Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye or unearthing some of Duke Ellington and Antonio Carlos Jobim's lesser-known jewels? No one is demanding that Hicks be a trendsetting innovator — he should stick to hard bop and post-bop because that's what he does best — but it would be nice to hear him make less-obvious choices when it comes to picking material. Nonetheless, Hicks is still a warm, soulful, expressive improviser and he certainly has a great sound — one that is greatly influenced by McCoy Tyner yet is recognizably John Hicks. Contrary to what its title suggests, Beyond Expectations isn't the Hicks album to end all Hicks albums. But it's a pleasing, if conventional, document of the pianist at 51.


Born: December 12, 1941 in Atlanta, GA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

A longtime fixture of the New York City jazz landscape, pianist John Hicks was an artist of uncommon versatility, moving effortlessly from pop standards to the avant-garde while retaining the dense physicality and intense energy that were the hallmarks of his approach. Born December 12, 1941, in Atlanta, Hicks was still an infant when his preacher father relocated the family to Los Angeles. He spent the better part of his teen years in St. Louis, and counted among his classmates there the young Lester...
Full Bio
Beyond Expectations, John Hicks
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  • $11.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Sep 01, 1993

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