According to Organic.org, how are food products certified worthy of the name? “Simply stated, organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones.”

Extrapolating the analogy, what would “organic recordings” be? Harlem, NY’s Solomon Hicks clearly shows us on his new album, Carrying On the Torch of the Blues. He presents seven original tracks (several written or co-written by producer Jeff Levine) and five popular covers. All of them are as crisp and fresh as newly-picked carrots. There are no pesky pop songs, no artificial techno synthesizer/keyboard riffs, no sludgy, mumbled lyrics, no blues-modified hard rock songs, and no “ear-radiating” screech-fests on guitar. This is 100% organic ensemble blues. Purists and casual fans alike will gorge on such a satisfying musical meal.

Hicks’ website reveals: “Twenty-year-old guitar prodigy and singer Solomon Hicks – known by some fans in Harlem as ‘King Solomon,’ ‘lil B.B.’ or ‘East Montgomery’ – has been playing guitar for 14 years. After 2 years of songwriting and recording with his producer/manager, Jeff Levine (a Joe Cocker veteran musical director and keyboardist), his new album entitled Carrying on the Torch of the Blues was released June 2015 on the Organic Recordings™ label…

“Special guest Southside Johnny plays harmonica on the cover version of “Homework”, a roots classic made popular by Otis Rush and The J. Geils Band. Jake Clemons (current member and the nephew of the legendary Clarence Clemons from Bruce Springsteen’s E. Street Band) is featured playing saxophone on the title track.”

Also joining lead guitarist/vocalist Solomon Hicks are Jeff Levine on Hammond B3 organ, grand piano, clavinet, and Wurlitzer electric piano; Gary Dates, John O’Neill and Steve Hoffman on drums and percussion; Rick Brunermer on alto, tenor, and baritone sax; Rob Elinson on alto and tenor sax; Eric Udell on bass; Tom LaBella on alto and tenor sax; John Berry, Curt Ramm, and Mac Gallehon on trumpets; Bob Funk on trombone; Gary Mazzaroppi on upright bass; Freddie Salem on second rhythm guitar; and Angelo “Buddy” Savino on bass.

The following three original selections burn the brightest on this CD, hot as an acetylene torch:

Track 01: “You Don’t Want Me Anymore” – With a medium, swinging tempo and hallowed horn section, the album’s opener is reminiscent of “Tore Down.” However, it’ll tear any dance floor up: “I can admit we had our days, when we would fight and walk away. You told me it was the last goodbye. I look back now and wonder why. I’ll always love you like I did before, but it’s clear to me: You don’t want me anymore.” Breakups are no fun, but this song’s a party in itself.

Track 04: “Jukin’ at the Cotton Club” – One of the world’s most famous music venues gets its due in Fab (Number) Four. It’s a swing/jump blues masterpiece, no matter how many people might call it jazz: “In Harlem, New York City, street 125, there’s a club up there that really jumps and jives, with a band that burns so hot you won’t believe your eyes.” Dig Gary Mazzaroppi’s outstanding upright bass and Jeff Levine’s perky piano.

Track 06: “Foolin’ Around” – Never has a guitar’s wah-wah pedal been put to such creative use as on psychedelic song six. It’s a familiar tale with a funky twist, told from the point of view of a teenager in trouble: “Well, you told me not to rush into the birds and the bees. To wait…until I found the girl of my dreams, but I was hungry. The taste of lust was all about, and now she claims it’s my baby – and that’s some news I can live without.” Time to grow up, kid, and for you blues fans, it’s time to play some air guitar!

Solomon Hicks is grandly Carrying On the Torch of the Blues!

- Rainey Wetnight - Blues Blast



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Original review in French (English translation follows):

Quand sur un disque apparaît le nom de Southside Johnny, ici à l'harmonica sur le magnifique 'Homework' d'Otis Rush, je me dis que c'est bon signe. Quand je remarque une reprise des Beatles sur un disque de blues, de plus le 'I Saw Her Standing There', un de mes titres préférés des 4 de Liverpool, je suis étonné. Quand participent à l'événement des gens du E Street Band du Boss, comme Curt Ramm (trompette) ou le neveu de Clarence, Jake Clemons (sax ténor), je me dis que le gars sait bien s'entourer. Voici donc le nouveau prodige du blues! King Solomon, ou Lil B.B., ou East Montgomery comme autres surnoms. Le petit a 20 ans, pratique la guitare depuis 14 ans et a déjà un disque à son actif, Embryonic en 2010! A croire que certains ne naissent plus dans les choux, mais dans une caisse de Gibson avec en fond sonore Les Paul! Quelle époque! Je n'exagère pas si je vous dis que Solomon joue comme un damné. Sans en faire des tonnes, tout est en place, précis et économique, son jeu est riche, divers et ouvert à différents styles, blues old school, louisianais, jazz, rock, funk à la Johnny Guitar Watson ('Fooling Around', avec un zeste de psyché! Si si!) Quel grand guitariste! Et comme si cela ne lui suffisait pas, c'est en plus un chanteur confirmé. Au titre des reprises, en plus de celles citées plus haut, 'Paul B. Allen, Omaha, Nebraska (Pt. II)' de Buddy Miles, 1970. Du jazz pour confirmer son surnom d'East Montgomery! Puis, pour finir, un 'My Baby' de Willie Dixon. Signalons tout de même que Jeff Levine, est présent ici comme co-auteur, producteur et pianiste sur tous genres de claviers. Étonnamment, Solomon a ouvert pour la dernière tournée du groupe Kiss. C'est dire que le gars doit savoir y faire pour tenir en haleine ce public de hard-rockeux! L’avenir du blues et de la bonne musique est maintenant assuré... votez Salomon Hicks.


(Very rough) English translation:

When a CD appears with the name of Southside Johnny (here on harmonica on the beautiful 'Homework' of Otis Rush) I tell myself that it is a good sign. When I notice a cover of the Beatles on a blues album ('I Saw Her Standing There', one of my favourite Liverpool 4 tracks), I'm amazed. Participating in a session with members of the E Street Band's Boss, such as Curt Ramm (trumpet) or the nephew of Clarence, Jake Clemons (tenor sax), I tell myself that the guy knows who to surround himself with. This is the new prodigy of the blues! He's known by nicknames such as King Solomon, Li'l B.B., or East Montgomery. The young man is only 20 years old, having practiced the guitar for 14 years, and already had a CD under his belt—Embryonic, in 2010! I believe that some are born in a cabbage patch, but Hicks must have been born in a Gibson case with a Les Paul playing the background music! What time! I am not exaggerating if I tell you that Solomon plays like one possessed. Without overplaying, everything is in its place, to the point and economical; his game is rich, diverse and open to different styles: old school blues, Louisiana, jazz, rock, funk, Johnny Guitar Watson, ('Fooling Around', with a twist of soul! Yes!) What a great guitarist! And as if that's not enough, he is also a confident vocalist. In addition to those cited above, he revives 'Paul B. Allen, Omaha, Nebraska (Pt. II)' by Buddy Miles, 1970, with the jazz chops to confirm his nickname of East Montgomery! Then, finally,  a cover of 'My Baby' of Willie Dixon. It should be noted that Jeff Levine is present here as co-writer, producer and pianist on all kinds of keyboards. Surprisingly, Solomon opened for the band Kiss on their last tour. This guy must know how to hold the attention of the hard rockers! The future of the blues and good music is now assured...vote Solomon Hicks.


- Juan Marquez Léon - Blues Again!



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Solomon Hicks is definitely Carrying On The Torch of the Blues


​This is an album where twenty-year-old Solomon Hicks celebrates and honours the blues. Having listened to the twelve tracks, Solomon Hicks is definitely Carrying On The Torch of the Blues. Second track in and Homework is a little bit special with the combination of Solomon and Southside Johnny playing harmonica on this stylish cover of a roots classic made popular by Otis Rush. Southside said “When I was young and starting out, certain people helped me, I’m happy to do the same for Solomon”. Solomon has definitely done his homework on the guitar. 


With some special guests, Solomon picks up his guitars and howls the blues on the six strings and the vocals are warm and full of emotion. The young man from Harlem has the blues deep in his soul along with his other influences, Jazz and Funk. The title track evokes the ghosts of the bluesmen departed; as the guitar sound changes, we imagine SRV, BB King and many more. The saxophone from Jake Clemons ( Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band) adds a tonal layer that is haunting and resonates the echoes of the influences of bluesmen from the deep blue past. Swing with bright blues feet-tapping rhythms and visit Jukin’ At The Cotton Club, the horns that cut through the track like a hot knife through butter. 


Solomon Hicks is not slavishly re-creating a blues sound of the past. This is a deeply blues-infused contemporary sound with a re-arrangement that shows the power of Lennon/McCartney writing as I Saw Her Standing There is recreated as a blues number that just doesn’t quite work—the vocals are dulled and there is no space for his guitar to hook onto the music.

Let's move to New Orleans and he can; with a deft change of tone we have The Hook of Love with a guitar solo that makes the whole album come alive. Again, Solomon struggles with the vocals. This is a young man taking leaps up the ladder, there is still space to develop and shape the blues Solomon wants to call his own.

The combination of sweet guitar licks and riffs and Jeff Levine’s Hammond makes this the penultimate track rather special, Paul B. Allen, Omaha, Nebraska Pt. II. This instrumental gives Hicks the space to focus on the guitar tone and shape, and it really lights up the album. We know that Solomon Hicks is definitely Carrying On The Torch of the Blues—he loves what he is playing and singing. The guitar has a role, but never to deliver excessively long and tedious lead breaks...it is there to augment the textural tone of the song. The album works—there is a flow— but there is something missing: a couple of big stand-out, forward-looking, really inventive tracks. 


Solomon Hicks has the instruments, guitar and vocals, that have the power to deliver and support to go on and really deliver a great album number three. In the meantime, Solomon Hicks' latest album will always be a welcome sound.


- Bluesdoodles


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Original review in German (English translation follows):

Aus New York stammend, ist Solomon Hicks erst 20 Jahre alt, aber auf seiner Website werden bereits drei «noms d guerre» aufgelistet: «lil» B.B. King, East Montgomery und King Solomon. Alle drei beschreiben die Musik des jungen Musikers aber inadäquat. Hicks such mehr sein eigenes Idiom als sich allzu sklavisch an den Vorgaben der Vergangenheit zu orientieren. Er spielt eine warme und weiche Gitarre, seine Stimme is noch jung und klingt etwas angestrengt. Sein Gesang erinnert stark an Joe Louis Walker, der auch musikalisch ein Vorbild sein könnte, ebenso wie Luther Allison. 

Hicks’ Album mit dem programmatischen Titel Carrying On The Torch Of The Blues ist eine Sammlung von 12 Titeln, die modern und energiegeladen sind, mit wunderbaren Piano Einsätzen (Around the World) und grosser Spielfreude. Der junge Mann will zeigen, was er kann, und das ist so einiges: Covers beinhalten den Beatles-Titel I Saw Her Standing There, Otis Rush's Homework und das unzerstörbare My Baby von Willie Dixon. Völlig aus der Reihe tanzt der vorletzte Titel, ein jazziger Titel mit viel Hammond-Orgel, der den Hinweis au Wes Montgomery verständlich werden lässt. Ob das Coverbild der CD eine Anspielung auf Bugs Henderson's letztes Album ist, kan bezweifelt werden, aber eindeuti kennt Solomon Hicks die Geschichte des Blues. Man mag ihm aufgrund der vorliegenden CD wünschen, auch mit dessen Zukunft etwas zu schaffen zu haben.  


(Very rough) English translation:
Originating from New York, is Solomon Hicks only 20 years old, but on his website already lists three nicknames: "Li'l B.B.", "East Montgomery", and "King Solomon". All three describe the music of the young musician, but inadequately. Hicks finds more exploring his own idiom than slavishly following the forms of the past. He plays a warm and soft guitar, and his voice is still young and sounds somewhat strenuous. His vocals are reminiscent of Walker, who could be a role model musically, as well as Luther Allison or Joe Louis.

Hicks' album, with the title of Carrying on the Torch of the Blues is a collection of 12 songs, which are modern and energetic, with wonderful piano inserts (Around the World) and great fun. The young man wants to show what he can, and that's a lot: covers include The Beatles' I Saw Her Standing There,  Otis Rush's Homework and the indestructible My Baby by Willie Dixon. On the second to last title, a jazzy track with lots of Hammond organ, Hicks dances with a knowledge of Wes Montgomery. It's unclear whether the cover image of the CD is an allusion to Bugs Henderson's last album, but Solomon Hicks clearly knows the history of the Blues. You may wish him, with this CD, to create something with its future. 


- Marc Winter, Bluesnews.ch


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Original review in German (English translation follows):

Mit Teilen der ehemaligen Band von Joe Cocker und unter der Ägide seines Pianisten und Organisten Jeff Levine eingespielt, überzeugt das Debütalbum des jungen New Yorkers Solomon Hicks mit spritzig-urbanem Blues der Extraklasse. Mit einer messerscharfen Bläsersektion in der Tradition der altehrwürdigen Produktionen aus Memphis, einer kompakt groovenden Rhythmusgruppe und Levines geschmackvollem Tastenwerk fokussiert die Aufnahme jedoch klar auf den fulminanten Ideenreichtum und wunderschönen Ton der Gitarre des erst 20-Jährigen, der auch als Sänger überzeugt. Von Schwermut ist hier keine Spur – die ganze CD durchweht ein jugendlicher Überschwang, der sich oftmals auch in einer etwas freigebigen Verwendung von Gitarreneffekten Bahn bricht. Eine Palastrevolution des Blues wird hier zwar ganz sicher nicht angezettelt, denn alle Songs, einschließlich des Beatles-Klassikers „I Saw Her Standing There“, der als Slowblues völlig unerwartete Qualitäten an den Tag bringt, sind in das klassische Klanggewand des Big City Blues gekleidet, das die drei Kings – B.B., Albert und Freddie – in den Sechzigern als Standard etabliert haben. Dafür wird ordentlich Party gefeiert. Und das kann Hicks – und es ist eine Freude, ihm dabei zuzuhören.


(Very rough) English translation:

With parts of the former band recorded by Joe Cocker and under the aegis of his pianist and organist Jeff Levine, produced the debut album of the young New Yorker Solomon Hicks with tangy urban blues of the extra class. With a razor-sharp brass section in the tradition of the venerable productions from Memphis, focused the recording but clearly a compact grooving rhythm section and Levine's tasteful keys work on the brilliant wealth of ideas of the 20 year old singer, who creates a  beautiful tone on the guitar. There is here no trace of melancholy - the whole CD contains a youthful exuberance that refracts railway often also in a somewhat liberal use of guitar effects. A something of the Blues is here although very sure not instigated, as all songs, including the Beatles classic "I saw her standing there", as performed completely unexpected qualities on the day brings, are dressed in the traditional garb of sound of big city blues, that the three kings – B.B., Albert and Freddie - have been established in the 1960s as a standard. This party will be celebrated properly. And the Hicks - and it is a pleasure to listen to him here.


- Amy Zapf, Bluesnews.de


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Recent years have witnessed the emergence of an encouraging number of young bluesmen, including Marquise Knox, Selwyn Birchwood, Jarekus Singleton and the Peterson Brothers. Now, with this auspicious debut CD, we can add the name of 20-year-old Harlem guitarist Solomon Hicks to that list.

Hicks establishes his guitar-slinger credentials right out of the gate with the storming horn-driven Collins shuffle You Don’t Want Me Anymore, and after a deceptively down-tempo intro follows with his version of Otis Rush’s Homework, with Southside Johnny’s harmonica replacing the horns and the leader’s vocal sounding more like a schoolboy’s than did Rush’s. The reverse technique is employed on the Beatles’ I Saw Her Standing There, which was brought to the session by producer Jeff Levine and starts off straight before morphing into the date's only slow track. Other covers include a strutting My Baby [actually Willie Dixon’s My Babe] that closes the set and Buddy Miles’ Paul B. Allen, Omaha, Nebraska (Pt.II) , which gives Hicks and Levine (on B-3) a welcome opportunity to show off their jazz chops. The originals provide us with echoes of Gatemouth Brown (Jukin’ at the Cotton Club), Jimmy Reed (Around the World), Z.Z. Hill (Fooling Around) and, with Levine doing the honors on piano, Professor Longhair (The Hook of Love). I Never Thought is a stop-time shuffle, and the horns return to good effect on I Want to See You Again, previously recorded by Bill Sims.

That leaves the title track, on which Hicks runs through the usual litany of blues guitar heroes, starting appropriately with Freddie King. This is a promising debut, and it will be interesting to see in coming years just how far Hicks can carry the torch that’s been passed to him.

- Jim DeKoster​, Living Blues


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Original review in German (rough English translation follows):

Solomon Hicks - Carrying on The Torch Of The BluesKein Geringerer als Jeff Levine (Joe Cocker und viele andere mehr) hat dieses Album des 20-jährigen Newcomers aus New York produziert. Der Name Solomon Hicks dürfte bislang den Bluesfans hierzulande nicht viel sagen - was sich mit dieser Scheibe wahrscheinlich sehr schnell ändern wird. 

Der bei Insiderkreisen unter "King Solomon" oder "Lil B.B." bekannte Gitarrist Sänger und Songwriter hat mit sechs Jahren begonnen Gitarre zu spielen, stand ab seinem dreizehnten Lebensjahr regelmäßig auf der Bühne und nahm seine erste CD als Vierzehnjähriger mit der 13-köpfigen Cotton Club All Star Band auf. Die Fachrichtungen Jazz, klassische und afrokubanische Gitarre studierte das Wunderkind auf der Harlem School of Arts. 

Sicher ist es dem Netzwerk eines Jeff Levine zu verdanken, dass sich eine illustre Gästeschar ins Aufnahmestudio eingefunden hat, allen voran John Lyon aka Southside Johnny aus New Jersey sowie mehrere Mitglieder von Bruce Springsteens E Street Band, wie der Saxofonist Jake Clemons oder der Trompeter Curt Ramm. 

Hicks selbst steuert zwei eigene Nummern bei, Levine sogar fünf, darunter auch den prophetisch interpretierbaren Titelsong. Bemerkenswert die von Hicks bevorzugte Interpretation des Lennon/McCartney-Klassikers "I saw Her Standing There", von ihm als Slow Blues-Variante geboten - vielleicht nicht unbedingt zur Freude eingefleischter Beatles-Fans, aber originell und eigenwillig gespielt. Bis auf das jazzige Instrumental "Paul B. Allen, Omaha, Nebraska, Pt. II" bietet das Programm der Scheibe einen Querschnitt aller Blues-Stile, bei dem Hicks gesanglich und durch seine Gitarrenarbeit überzeugt. 

Erstklassig produziertes Album - Für alle Bluesfans wärmstens zu empfehlen.



(Very rough) English translation:

None other than Jeff Levine (Joe Cocker and many others) has produced this album of 20-year-old newcomer from New York. The name Solomon Hicks has probably not been mentioned much by the blues fans in this country,but that is likely to change very quickly with this disc.

"King Solomon" or "Li’l B.B.”, as the guitarist, singer and songwriter is known, began playing guitar at age 6, and was on stage regularly at thirteen, and recorded his first CD at the age of fourteen with the 13-member Cotton Club All-Star Band. The child prodigy studied the disciplines of jazz, classical and Afro-Cuban guitar at the Harlem School of the Arts. Thanks to the network of Jeff Levine, an illustrious crowd gathered into the recording studio, led by John Lyon (aka Southside Johnny) from New Jersey, and several members of Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band, including saxophonist Jake Clemons and trumpeter Curt Ramm.

Hicks contributes with two different numbers, Levine with five, including the prophetic interpretable theme song. Noteworthy of Hicks preferred interpretation of the Lennon-McCartney classic "I Saw Her Standing There", played by Hicks as slow blues version - maybe not necessarily delight diehard Beatles fans, but it’s original and idiosyncratic.

Except for the jazzy instrumental "Paul B. Allen, Omaha, Nebraska, Pt. II", the CD set list is a cross section of all blues styles featuring Hicks’ vocals and his fine guitar work.

A first class produced album - recommended for all blues fans warmly.


- Bluesbox




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"Carrying on the Torch of the Blues" by Solomon Hicks

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