Who knew this was to be John Hicks' last recording?" mused HighNote's Joe Fields from the label's New York City offices. We had just inked John to a new exclusive contract and he was his usual affable self when he was joined at Rudy's just five weeks before he would pass away by a familiar group of musicians who were all dear friends and who had shared countless appearances on the bandstand together," Fields continued. John will be terribly missed professionally but most of all personally here at HighNote."
Hicks had a decade-long association with HighNote, the highlight of which is clearly his series of five critically acclaimed piano trio tributes -- recorded between 1998 and 2003 with bassist Dwayne Dolphin and drummer Cecil Brooks III -- to Billy Strayhorn, Errol Garner, Mary Lou Williams, Sonny Clark and Earl Fatha" Hines, all Pittsburgh-based or - born jazz pianists and composers. Hicks' HighNote discography also includes appearances as a sideman on 11 recordings dating back to guitarist Jimmy Ponder's 1997 CD James Street; two other dates with Ponder; a session with saxophonist James Spaulding; two with guitarist Larry Coryell and five with saxophonist David Fathead" Newman. Hicks also made four appearances as a sideman on a pair of recordings each released by saxophonist Arthur Blythe and drummer Cecil Brooks III on HighNote's sister label Savant Records.