That's a fitting name for his band, which generally includes a player or two who have been under-exposed in the area, or who are so good, you never tire of hearing them.
The matinee event at the Venice Art Center teamed Hixon with ex-Ellington bassist John Lamb, pianist Dick Reynolds (longtime house pianist at Mr. Kelly's in Chicago), tenor saxophonist Jim Wellen and St. Petersburg-based trumpeter James Suggs, who moved to Florida a couple of years ago after an eight-year residency in Argentina.
It was Suggs' first Venice Art Center appearance since last June, when he headlined a Louis Armstrong tribute evening. He is a young man with an old soul. He digs deep into the jazz repertoire to revisit material - and imbues it with great finesse and bright, clean melodic lines. The concert paired him with Wellen, a terrific swing-style tenor player whose sound is reminiscent of a couple of relative youngsters - Scott Hamilton and Harry Allen.
|Jim Wellen, John Lamb|
Suggs' shining moments included the band's takes on "The Very Thought of You," Lil Hardin Armstrong's 1922 classic "Struttin' With Some Barbecue," "St. James Infirmary" and an encore tease - the high-energy introduction to "West End Blues," another Satchmo-related gem.
Reynolds treated the crowd to a solo rendition of an original ballad, "Reflections," that was both pensive and lovely.
|Dick Reynolds, Jim Wellen, James Suggs, John Lamb, AL Hixon|