John Hicks

Naima's Love Song

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As is the case with his equally impressive trio date East Side Blues, pianist John Hicks' Naima's Love Song features drummer Victor Lewis and bassist Curtis Lundy on sides recorded during a 1988 Tokyo studio session. The sound and repertoire are nicely expanded here, though, with inspired solos and compositions by alto saxophonist and Art Blakey alum Bobby Watson. His engaging cut "Someday" is a special standout, fluidly mixing lithe, mid-tempo hard bop with inflections of modern gospel and buoyant Stevie Wonder-style soul-pop. Along with Watson's equally impressive and somewhat funky "On the One," Lundy's strong "Elementary My Dear Watson" adds to the set's store of fine originals. And, of course, one can't overlook the stellar contribution by Hicks, whose perennial "Naima's Love Song" closes out the session and features fine solos from all. Also included are choice covers of Mal Waldron's moody ballad "Soul Eyes" and Sonny Rollins' breakneck swinger "Pent-Up House." With pristine sound and plenty of Hicks' inspired and vigorous solo work topping things off, Naima's Love Song qualifies as one of the best jazz titles of the '80s.

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