Joan Hickey

Between the Lines

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From Chicago's Joan Hickey, Between the Lines is a rather eclectic mix of original compositions and standards, and an eclectic mix of standards at that. The album opens with a Hickey original in tribute to Herbie Hancock that attempts, and at least partially succeeds, in representing some of the massive range Hancock is capable of on the piano (also Hickey's instrument of choice). The album moves quickly to the American songbook with Rodgers and Gershwin standards providing a platform for massive improvisation and rearrangement that still allows the players to hold together and show off their chops. Interestingly, "My Funny Valentine" takes on half a reggae rhythm in the process, thanks largely to Dana Hall on drums and Dennis Carroll on bass. Joe Zawinul's "Midnight Mood" gives Hickey one of her best places to shine, as she invokes Bill Evans' style thoroughly and effectively. "Black Magic Woman" (with John Wojciechowski taking the lead on sax) walks the line between reverent and odd, with Hickey having some trouble adapting the piano to the feel of the song for a while. "Bridge Over Troubled Water" works better, but the real treat is at the end of the album, when she takes on an old Bud Powell number for a final chance to show off her speed. Throughout the album, Hickey holds toward the back of the session whenever it seems appropriate for other players to step forward. Unfortunately, she also holds back now and then when she should be at the forefront. The players all turn in excellent performances, especially Hall on drums. The compositions provide an interesting mix of old and new that one is unlikely to hear too often. The overall effect is a good one, worth a spin for jazzheads old and young alike.

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