Robert Hicks was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. He began playing the playing the piano at the age of five, teaching himself to play by ear from the 78 rpm records of Tommy Dorsey and Stan Kenton he had dug out of his grandmother’s attic. His phonograph records were his toys. In lieu of a teddy bear he slept with an album of rhumbas. He began singing jazz at the age of eight and began classical and jazz piano study with Gene Confer at age nine. At sixteen he began playing professionally around Portland.
From early childhood, Robert’s thoughts were filled mostly with jazz. He had memorized the tunes, the arrangements and the artists who made jazz and the big band era great. It was natural for him to want to work in the entertainment capitol so, at age 22, he moved to Hollywood, California to continue his career.
Just after four weeks, he saw his name in lights when he performed at Silver Screen Jazz Club on Sunset Boulevard, and his composition, "That Was The End Of Me" was featured in the Columbia Pictures' release, "Miracle Beach", which led him to start his own publishing company, Jobobal Music. He also went on to compose for television commercials and film, and appeared in commercials and print ads.
Over a seven year period he sang and played the piano in many of LA’s top nightclubs and hotels but one of his favorite venues was the Ritz-Carlton in Pasadena (where he led a quintet four nights a week), where fate brought him together with one of idols, legendary composer/arranger Pete Rugolo. Robert was in the midst of recording his first compact disc entitled “New Standards” and Pete Rugolo agreed to do the liner notes. The disc received substantial air play and rave reviews.
He then went on to conceive, produce, music direct, design and perform in the concert, “Pete Rugolo Conducts…”, the first ever retrospective on the legendary composer/arranger’s body of work. The concert took place at the Newmark Theater - Portland Center for the Performing Arts, with Mr. Rugolo conducting the Art Abrams Swing Machine Big Band and featuring vocalist, Rebecca Kilgore. The success of that evening inspired his second CD, “Textures in Hi-Fi”, which he recorded in Hollywood with Pete Rugolo’s spectacular 19-piece, all-star orchestra.
Featured on the disc are such legendary musicians as Pete & Conte Candoli, Buddy Childers & Jack Costanzo. After the CD release concert at Portland’s Crystal Ballroom, Robert and Pete were the headliners of the 20th annual Cathedral Park Jazz Festival, where they performed the album with the Carlton Jackson-Dave Mills Big Band.
Robert has also starred onstage in “Tru”, the two-act one-man play about Truman Capote, directed by Helena de Crespo for Triangle Productions. He has continued performing his music in such diverse locations as Switzerland, St. Thomas, New York City, San Francisco, Alaska, and in Singapore, Bali, Tokyo, Osaka, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Austria, Chengdu, Shanghai & Seoul.
What people Are Saying:
"While his singing is the predominant feature...his piano work is also first rate -- a light touch, a minimalist style, not unlike a George Shearing. He's got the whole package." ~ Jazzscene
"Hicks is a real talent..." ~ Cadence Magazine
Hicks captures the spirit and sound of the era without posturing..."
~ The Raleigh News & Observer
"Unlike some signers who approach the standard repertoire with some bewilderment and a lot of forced effort, Hicks obviously understands these songs and is very comfortable performing them." ~ Pulse! Magazine
New Standards (Velocity Records)
Textures in Hi-Fi (Velocity Records)
Portland Jazz - Volumes 1 & 2 (Pillar Productions)