John Hicks: Lush Life
John Hicks (piano)
Something to Live For: A Billy Strayhorn Songbook (Highnote 757019)
John Hicks (piano).
Composed by Billy Strayhorn.
Recorded: Pittsburgh, PA, June 17, 1997
Rating: 97/100 (learn more)
Some believe that the only version of "Lush Life" they'll ever need is that of Johnny Hartman with John Coltrane. However, Strayhorn's early masterpiece is so elegantly constructed and exquisitely lyrical that it cannot help but inspire other memorable renditions. One such comes from John Hicks on his Strayhorn tribute CD. Although no stranger to solo piano (hear his "Live at Maybeck Recital Hall"), he usually fronted a trio, as elsewhere on this noteworthy session.
Hicks characteristically examines every nook and cranny of "Lush Life," exploring artfully its harmonic potential and unfailingly making the right choices regarding chords, embellishments and grace notes. His deviations from the melodic line are subtle, tasteful, and fresh, and his enhancements overall only further expose the rich beauty of the tune. Hicks was a brilliant pianist, eminently comfortable playing anything from a standard to a free piece, and deserved considerably more recognition than he ever received during his lifetime. "Lush Life" will forever remain a strong testament to his ability.
Reviewer: Scott Albin