Aug 6, 2011
Mace Hibbard is a Texas Tenor (and Alto, and Soprano), but he wasn't always aware of what that really meant.
Texas is the state that brought us saxophone giants like James Clay, David "Fathead" Newman, Illinois Jacquet, Arnett Cobb, Buddy Tate and Budd Johnson, to say nothing of King Curtis and Ornette Coleman. But having been brought up in a home with a trumpeter father, Mace learned his music from a different instrumental perspective. It wasn't until his college days in Austin that he realized the great tradition of Lone Star saxophone players. To say that he is ready to follow in their footsteps might be premature; however, at the age of 34, he's won a Grammy Award and is poised to break out as a leader with his fine quintet CD Time Gone By.
Mace is at the center of a burgeoning jazz scene in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to writing for and recording with fellow residents Melvin Jones (Pivot) and Bryant Thompson (Puzzle Pieces), he sits in with the Joe Grandsen Big Band, teaches at Georgia State University of Arts and Scientists, and has projects in store with the likes of local guitarist Trey Wright.
I spoke with Mace about his solo work, his collaborations with fellow Atlantans, and his Grammy winning work with the Derek Trucks Band, where he wrote the charts and anchored the horn section. Click here to listen to the interview, which is supplemented by selections from his music. including:
Mace Hibbard - "Rude On Purpose" from Time Gone By. The Quintet makes some exceptional music on this release. Mace is on sax, Melvin Jones on trumpet, Louis Heriveaux on piano, Marc Miller on bass and Justin Varnes on drums.
Mace Hibbard - "December 18" from Time Gone By. The band slows it down here, on a tune written around - and then eventually for - the birth of Mace's son.
Melvin Jones - "Do You Wor Kalogne?" from Pivot. The title may be an inside joke, but the composition and playing certainly is not. Jones is on trumpet, backed by Mace on saxophone, Heriveaux on piano, Rodney Jordan on bass and Leon Anderson on drums.
Bryant Thompson - "Stargazing" from Puzzle Pieces. A smooth jazz gig for Mace, who enjoys stretching out in any number of settings. The band includes Bryant Thompson on Piano, keyboards and drum programming; Hibbard on soprano sax; Jorel "J-Fly" Flynn on drums; Steve "Left-Hand" Lewis on guitar, and Ron James on Background Soprano and Alto Sax. Thompson told me Mace was referred to jim by Mike Burton (saxophonist for Tyler Perry). "I checked him out and immediately loved his flavor.", he ssid.
Derek Trucks Band - "Day Is Almost Gone" from Already Gone. Hibbard was at the core of a horn section including trumpeter Paul Garrett and trombonist Kevin Hyde for this album, its supporting tour and the "Soul Stew Revival" tour joined by Derek's wife Susan Tedeschi. Trucks is is his usual brilliant self on guitar. and the band includes Mike Mattison on vocals, Kofi Burbridge on keyboards, Todd Smallie on bass, Yonrico Scott on drums, and Count M'butu on percussion.