Hicks recalls young Chet Baker
By Wayne Thompson
"New Standards," Robert Hicks, piano, vocals. What a treat! It takes a Chet Baker fan to know one. Actually, Hicks has a much better tone and sense of pitch than Baker, even the young Baker, before drugs and a hard life coarsened Chet's voice and delivery. "Don't Worry About Me" was the give-away tune. I found no evidence in my record collection that Chet Baker had ever recorded this Rube Bloom/Ted Koehler ballad. Had he done so, he would have had to ask Robert Hicks for permission. For me, Hicks owns that song now. While his singing is the prominent feature, including some imaginative skatting that Mel Torme would admire, Hicks' piano work also is first rate - a light touch, a minimalist style not unIike a George Shearing. He's got the whole package. On this album, Hicks is assisted by some superb West Coast players, such as trombonist George Bohanon, trumpeter Graham Young and saxophonist Doug Webb. This is a keeper, for the fire, late at night, with romance in the air.