There was a strong sense of joy in the collaborative effort of the John Hicks Trio at the One Step Down last night. The leader's piano and the big-toned and flawlessly executed bass of Curtis Lundy were often equals in terms of solo space and this balance seemed perfectly natural, for both are highly developed, melodic players.

Hicks fed phrases and ideas to both the bassist and drummer Marvin Smith on two opening instrumentals of medium tempo. On the second, he and Lundy shared an ostinato theme that passed back and forth with the gentle movement of a rocking chair.

On a slow, lullaby piece Hicks was spare with notes over Lundy's delicately bowed bass. Then an uptempo dash followed, and at times Hicks' hands were moving with such velocity and hitting so many notes that it was almost as though he were shaking the keys in a bag--yet there were no missteps and organization never faltered; it swung zealously.

Vocalist Carmen Lundy concluded the set with several standards and an original. On the slower numbers, there was a bit of hesitancy, but on a final rip-roaring scat vehicle she loosened up and indicated the promise hinted by her good voice.

The quartet performs again this evening.