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This posthumously issued solo piano recording by John Hicks was done in 2006 at a concert in New Hope, PA, comprising nine standards ranging from American popular songs to post-bop and compositions by Thelonious Monk. The consummate musical linguist, Hicks settles into a no-time ballad format for at least half of the program, takes the razor-sharp edges off of the Monk pieces, and wends his brilliant way through the standards as if he'd played them by memory - which likely he did. An underrated genius of jazz piano if ever there was one, Hicks died before reaping the ultimate rewards and high praise he deserved, so this CD not only reflects a certain melancholy, but celebrates what an original jazz interpreter he truly was. There's a lengthy stretch in the middle of the performance where Hicks strings together elegiac, languid, individual versions of "I Want to Talk About You," "Everytime We Say Goodbye," and "Upper Manhattan Medical Group" as if a prelude to a somber occasion, perhaps to the innate knowledge of his pending passing, which would happen shortly after these performances. The Monk tunes "Reflections" and "Nutty" bookend the program, and you can clearly hear a softer focus, delicate variations, maybe missing a note on the melody of the former, while straying off the path into minor modes on the latter. His take of "Solar" is the gem of the set, taking liberties with expansive reharmonizations and modal incursions to reinvent this piece from within. There's nothing rote in his version of the deep and hypnotic "All of You," where you can understand how Hicks knows this tune pat, yet puts his own personalized and devilish stamp on it. Where Hicks was primarily an ensemble performer, it's good to hear him alone and together with his beloved piano, making subtle and substantive music from the heart.