As a rule, jazz musicians would rather be hipsters than hicks -- but here is one who had no choice, at least when it came time to call the roll. Trombonist Henry Hicks would most certainly be considered pretty hip in the post-Ken Burns epoch of jazz criticism, however, claiming membership in legendary bands of the '20s, such as the Musical Stevedores, the Jungle Town Stompers, Jasper Davis' Orchestra, and Edgar Hayes' Blue Grass Buddies. The name of the latter band should not cause confusion as to what style of music Hicks played -- he was a jazzman, not a bluegrass picker. The Hayes group was active in 1924, well before the term bluegrass had come into service to describe a style of country music.
This was also an era when Hicks was still studying at Wilberforce College in Birmingham, Alabama, a town that of course claims this artist among its numerous musically talented offspring. Beginning in 1925, Hicks began working with Horace Henderson's Collegians -- a gig that lasted until 1928, followed by sideman enrollments with Benny Carter and Bingie Madison. Hicks' involvement with the Carroll Dickerson's Savoy Orchestra around this same time led to the most stocked corner of the trombonist's discography; Louis Armstrong wound up taking over the band and using it on a series of recording sessions. Membership in the Mills Blue Rhythm Band in the first half of the '30s was Hicks' final high profile job. He is no relation to the trumpeter Billy Hicks nor the pianist John Hicks.