Review of "Time Gone By" Mace Hibbard's latest CD

A trip to the mailbox is rarely described as a “highlight” of the day. However when an unexpected gem arrives, the mood of the day can suddenly turn from mundane to extraordinary. Last week, the mail carrier delivered one of those yellow padded envelops with the upper left corner labeled “From: Mace Hibbard”. The result was a major game changer for the mood of the day.

Having made a bold impression with his 2006 release “When Last We Met”, the padded yellow envelop was opened first, ahead of the other mail in the stack.

Upon first listen to Saxophonist Mace Hibbard’s latest release “Time Gone By”, the evidence is overwhelming as to why Mr. Hibbard is one of the most exciting players on the scene today. Besides his explosively emotional playing, a deeper dig into this release will find Mr. Hibbard’s compositional chops standing tall as well. The writing is detailed, well structured and creates a wide open playground for all band members to shine. Mr. Hibbard’s hand picks the best musicians on the Atlanta scene and they all offer their complimentary and highly expressive talents.

Jazz lives in an arena of uncharted territory and strives for unattainable perfection. The excitement to this listener comes from the artist's exploration meets the possibility of not finding the way back. While often coming precariously close to the edge, the musicianship on “Time Gone By” delivers some risky moments yet always arrives safely to complete the story.

“Time Gone By” gives a diverse array of Hibbard’s original compositions, one by pianist Louis Heriveaux “Theme for Dos Lyn” and a beautiful rendition of “Always on My Mind”.

Here is a sample from the menu.

Great title for an opening composition: “Rude on Purpose”. Not an easy groove to grasp. Sort of like, the Jazz Crusaders meet a juggler on a unicycle. An attention grabber, saying hello and welcome.

“December 18th” has an eerie melodic feel which conjures up visions of a city night, light rain, traffic at a hustled pace. All being the backdrop for a couple seated at a sidewalk café focused solely on each other, unaware of the goings on around them. They are enjoying each other’s company at the end of a long, demanding day. As it should be!

“Indecision” has a subtle cadence which lends a sense of peace to being where it is. No fuss, no muss just a smooth confident pace. Again plenty of room for Louis Heriveaux’s piano lines, Melvin Jones’ trumpet exploration and Mr. Hibbard’s relentless saxophone to stretch out. Justin Varnes provides just the right filling which adds slight complexity.

Wow! Not an easy choice for a jazz recording, Mace Hibbard offers his own feeling and emotion with “Always on My Mind” the timeless composition made popular Willie Nelson. Listen closely as the melody is there but not too obvious. The mastery is in how Mr. Hibbard stays close to the theme but not too close. Certainly the secret to making the old, new again. Soling is then relinquished to the artful hands of Louis Heriveaux. Nice risk. Well done.

Louis Heriveaux is one of the strongest jazz pianists around. His composition, “Theme for Dos Lyn” also showcases writing gifts. This composition is written for the players and is hard driving. When not soloing, Mr. Heriveaux supports the other solos with great accompanying sprinkled with suggestive thematic ideas. STRONG!

Remember the back yard “Slip and Slide”? Hook up a garden hose to a simple runway of plastic tarp. Hours of summer fun seeing who could slide the fastest and the furthest. Head first, feat first, on the stomach then on the back. Great title for this up tempo composition built for soloing.

Enough for now. Get this recording and listen closely. It is full of great music by great players. “Time Gone By” has twelve compositions spanning a variety of tempos, moods, colors and images. Mace Hibbard is a musical force, both with his playing and compositional skills. Each lures the listener to stop and pay attention. His mastery of the saxophone and his highly evolved compositional style gives the listener fresh and exciting music to explore and enjoy.

Thanks Mace.

Tracks: Rude on Purpose, December 18th, Indecision, Hallowed Ground, Always on My Mind, Them for Dos Lyn, Remembrance of Things Past, Slip and Slide, The Rain King, Time Gone By, La Danza Olividada, For the Memories We Share.

Musicians: Mace Hibbard, Saxophone, Melvin Jones, Trumpet, Louis Heriveaux, Piano, Marc Miller, Bass, Justin Varnes, Drums
Artist's Website:

Year: 2011

Record Label: Mace Hibbard Music

Style: Progressive Instrumental Jazz
These are my comments. I welcome yours.

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Bruce Pulver