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A Memorial Celebration for John Hicks at St. Peter's Church
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A Memorial Celebration for John Hicks at St. Peter's Church

- Jazz and Cabaret Corner

”Hicks Time”
Memorial Celebration for
John Hicks
(John Hicks Bio)
St. Peter’s Church
619 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY
Reverend Dale Lind, Pastor

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 4, 2006

(See a CD Review of John Hicks and Elise Wood)

(See John Hicks and Elise Wood at Bösendorfer New York)

John Hicks’ untimely passing was a shock to the international and, mainly, New York jazz community. He was a versatile and prolific jazz pianist, performed in all the most important clubs and festivals, worked with Betty Carter, Joe Henderson, Clark Terry, Grady Tate, and, in 1964, he became pianist for Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, with Lee Morgan and Curtis Fuller. He collaborated onstage with Frank Foster, Roy Haynes, Sonny Rollins, Kenny Barron, and Freddie Hubbard. He was a Grammy nominee, an NYU Jazz Fellow, and he developed jazz clinics for his students. John Hicks was married to flautist, Elise Wood, with whom he performed for two decades.

At today’s memorial celebration at St. Peter’s Church, in a standing-room-only event, numerous accolades and personal remarks were shared, plus jazz performances and vocals, all presented by close friends and relatives of John Hicks. As the audience arrived, Prelude, the music of John Hicks, could be heard. The memorial celebration began with an invocation by Reverend Dale Lind and welcoming remarks from James Browne, the program host. A family remembrance was lovingly and warmly spoken by John’s brother, Raiford Hicks, who referred to John as “June”, his nickname.

Among the jazz performances was Never Let Me Go, by R. Evans and J. Livingston, performed by Larry Willis, Buster Williams, and Jimmy Cobb. A reading was given by pianist, Kenny Barron (a friend of John’s for 50 years), with words by J. Merod. Duke Ellington’s Single Petal of a Rose was performed on piano by Larry Willis, with repetitive refrains that built in volume. Naima’s Love Song, by John Hicks, was interpreted by an ensemble, including Elise Wood on flute and Mulgrew Miller on piano. Some improvisation occurred with the written program, as additional performers arrived to pay tribute to Mr. Hicks. Mickey Bass played My Foolish Heart, and Todd Barkan, Artistic Director of Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, shared personal reflections of Mr. Hicks with humor and reverence.

Michel LeGrand’s How Do You Keep the Music Playing was melodic and mellow, performed by Larry Willis, Buster Williams, and Louis Nash. The spirit of this celebration rose with Kathy Farmer’s uplifting vocals in Come Sunday, by Duke Ellington, with Larry Willis, Craig Handy, and Buster Williams in accompaniment. On the heels of this piece were Looking for the Light, composed and played by George Cables, and John Hicks’ arrangement of The Lord’s Prayer, by the World Saxophone Quartet, including a wild musical escapade by James Carter, plus trombone, bass, and drums, followed by Cecil Taylor’s contemporary piano solo. Joe Lovano’s Nonet soon appeared for Bernstein’s Cool, and James Browne once again spoke to the audience with closing remarks.

The jazz community will miss John Hicks, the musician, and John Hicks, the man.

John Hicks at Bösendorfer New York
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

John Hicks at Bösendorfer New York
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at