Grammy award winning saxophonist/composer/educator Mace Hibbard has quickly established himself as one of the most exciting and versatile saxophonists on the scene today. Journalist John Barron succinctly commented, “Hibbard is an artist who uses his technical mastery, compositional skills, and informed understanding of the jazz saxophone lineage, to create musical offerings that are truly unique.”
Born and raised in Waco, TX, early music lessons included piano and voice until settling on the saxophone at age 10. Mr. Hibbard’s firm grasp of the history of jazz and its standard repertoire comes from the gigs he played with his father – Dave Hibbard, a great trumpet player who was a staple in the Texas jazz scene for years – throughout his teen years. From there, he attended the University of Texas in Austin, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in musical performance and a master’s degree in jazz studies. While in Austin, he developed as a composer and formed the group Odd Man Out, which released their self-titled debut on Viewpoint Records in 2000. In addition to his growing jazz career, it was during this time that Mr. Hibbard began developing his reputation as a outstanding performer in all genres, playing in ensembles as diverse as the Austin Symphony, singer-songwriter Drew Smith, the Creative Opportunity Orchestra and the Stingers.
After 10 years of being one of the most sought after woodwind players in Austin, Mr. Hibbard relocated to Atlanta, GA in the summer of 2003 where he continues to live up to his reputation as a gifted soloist and solid performer on all saxophones, flute and clarinet. In 2008, the Mace Hibbard Quintet was selected to play at the Atlanta Jazz Festival as the winner of the Future of Jazz Competition. In 2009, Mr. Hibbard was asked to perform in the Battle Royale celebration concert at the Savannah Music Festival where he was a featured soloist alongside such jazz luminaries as the Marcus Roberts Trio, the Clayton Brothers, Terrell Stafford, Scotty Barnhart, Jeff Clayton, Wycliffe Gordon and Andre Hayward.
Beginning in 2005, Mr. Hibbard began his association with The Derek Trucks Band and Soul Stew Revival with Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi. On select tours for the next five years, he was a featured soloist and horn arranger for the two bands. This union culminated in Mr. Hibbard winning a 2010 Grammy Award for his playing and horn arrangements on Already Free. He is also featured on the critically acclaimed live album, Roadsongs, released in 2010 by The Derek Trucks Band.
In 2007, Mr. Hibbard released his debut album as a leader, When Last We Met,featuring all original material and a lineup of Atlanta’s finest musicians. Released to worldwide airplay, it amassed incredible reviews, with one critic declaring, “Mace Hibbard’s new CD grabbed me right from the git go. His writing is wonderful and his playing first class. One of the finest young alto players on the scene and he’s just as impressive on soprano and tenor. The rest of the group is also first class. This is already on my list of year’s best.”
Time Gone By, Mr. Hibbard’s second album, was released in 2011. Once again featuring his longtime quintet and original compositions, it was a fixture at the top of the CMJ Jazz Charts, peaking at number 3. Dr. Michael Matheny of RadioIO Real Jazz was emphatic in his praise for the new album: “Time Gone By is a huge new release for jazz. One of the best CDs of 2011. Maybe even 2012!”
With Atlanta, GA as his home base, Mr. Hibbard’s playing and compositions can be found on recordings by Melvin Jones, Yonrico Scott, Ben Tucker, the Joe Gransden Big Band, Jennifer Holliday, Trey Wright, Bryant Thompson and Marlon Patton. He is also a featured saxophonist/composer on Atlanta Sax Allstars, which will be released by Hotshoe Records and will feature four of Atlanta’s finest saxophonists. Continuing his standing as a all-around musician, Mr. Hibbard has performed throughout the United States and Europe, sharing the stage with Marcus Printup, The Temptations, The O’Jays, The Four Tops, Kenny Rogers, Wayne Newton, Frankie Avalon, Frankie Valli, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Travis Sullivan’s Bjorkestra and rock bands Scrapmatic and Son Volt.
In addition to his impressive performance career, his standing as an educator is equally notable. Mr. Hibbard has served on the faculty of Georgia State University since 2005 where he is an instructor of jazz saxophone and improvisation. He also was a professor of saxophone and jazz studies at Jacksonville State University from 2003-2010. Mr. Hibbard has served as a clinician and soloist at many universities in the United States and Canada, with notable engagements at the University of Texas at Austin, Florida State University, Slippery Rock University and the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada. In 2004, he published the first in a series of technical studies for the saxophone entitled “Scales and Patterns For Saxophone,Volume I, Major Scales and Intervals.”