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The Atlanta Saxophone All-stars with Johnny O'Neal (from L to R):

Gary Harris

Sam Skelton

Mace Hibbard

Brian Hogans

 

 

 

 

 

 

ATLANTA SAXOPHONE ALL-STARS

 Four fabulous and highly individual musicians with names that soon may (or at least should) be of the household variety: Gary Harris, Brian Hogans, Mace Hibbard, and Sam Skelton. 

 

Mace Hibbard hails from the south.  But Waco, Texas is too far to the west to be viewed as “deep south” by most Atlantans.  Hibbard’s primary musical influence was his father, Dave Hibbard—a renowned lone star state jazz trumpeter.  Mace is well educated with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in musical performance and jazz studies, respectively, but still manages to be one of the more shoot-from-the-hip improvisers around.  When he’s not on the bandstand or in concert halls playing saxophones, clarinets, or flutes, Hibbard can be found teaching jazz saxophone at several institutions, including Georgia State University.

Sam Skelton is a renowned first-call multi-reedist, and perhaps the most well-rounded of the four featured saxophonists.  With dual roles as Director of Jazz Studies and Lecturer in Saxophone at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta, Skelton teaches and performs classical saxophone and jazz pedagogy with the same virtuosic zeal.  Not many can attest to mastery of both.  Oddly, the required skills, such as vibrato, phrasing, and basic tone production tend not to overlap with the two genres.  Skelton is homegrown, born and raised in suburban Conyers, Georgia, several miles east of Atlanta.

Brian Hogans hails from the town of Morrow, Georgia, a stone’s throw south of downtown Atlanta.  Hogans’ playing is multi-faceted, enigmatic, and interesting to say the least.  Amazingly, he is as proficient on piano as he is on saxophone.  Hogans plays jazz as individually as anyone, due at least partially to his studies with disparate saxophone greats Bunky Green, Don Braden and Antonio Hart.  Hogans can be heard on bandstands wherever truly individual, in-depth musicianship is appreciated or required.  

Gary Harris is a friendly cat who warms up the coldest of people or nightspots—the bluesiest native Atlantan featured here.  This is not to say that blues inflections are remotely absent from any one of the featured foursome.  But Harris seethes bluesiness as a teapot blows steam.  A veteran tenor man who has been on stages as far-flung as the North Sea and Montreux Jazz Festivals, Harris is in demand as a sideman and leader throughout the Deep South and beyond.  His expertise encompasses both straight-ahead and R&B-tinged jazz.