Maud Hixson (Vocals) with Rick Carlson (Piano), Gordy Johnson (Base) and Jay Epstein (Drums)

Maud Hixson

Maud Hixson is a singer of classic jazz and popular songs of the 20th century, based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She became a full-time musician after being presented as “Best New Voice” at the KBEM Winter Jazz Fest in Minneapolis in 2003, and now works with a variety of musicians, including the continental sextet French 75, which she founded with clarinetist Tony Balluff.

She made her Guthrie Theater debut in “Coward’s Women” in 2010 with singer Erin Schwab, performed at the New York Cabaret Convention in 2011 at Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall, and in 2012 appeared in concert with composer and pianist Richard Rodney Bennett as part of the Midtown Jazz Series in New York. A two-time recipient of the Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, she recently launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund her newest album, “Don’t Let A Good Thing Get Away”. The first album devoted to the music of Broadway composer Michael Leonard, with arrangements by pianist Tex Arnold, the CD also features bassist Steve LaSpina, cornetist Warren Vaché, and guitarist Gene Bertoncini. Recorded at Nola Recording Studios in Steinway Hall, New York City, the CD was released May 1st, 2013 and placed in the Minneapolis StarTribune’s Twin Cities Critics Tally of the best recordings of the year.

Check her website at

Rick Carlson

Rick Carlson taught himself to play the piano by studying the vast works of Count Basie and Duke Ellington and absorbing their technique. He has also perfected the art of “circular drinking”, whereby he can sip martinis uninterrupted while still playing a cohesive piano solo.

He has been the pianist for the Wolverines Big Band since 1980. He is also a member of Doug Haining’s Twin Cities Seven. He is a sought-after accompanist by singers and has served as pianist and musical director for various local concert series, including those for the Twin Cities Jazz Society’s “J To Z” series, the Capri Theater’s “Legends” series, and for special presentations at the Heights Theatre. He has performed with Count Basie drummer Butch Miles, New Orleans clarinetist Evan Christopher, and served as musical director, arranger and pianist in the Guthrie Theater’s presentation of “Coward’s Women”. He has opened for Rosemary Clooney, accompanied Kathryn Crosby in various cabaret shows, and counts Madeleine Peyroux among his many fans.

Check his website at

Gordon Johnson

An Eastman School of Music graduate, Gordy toured extensively throughout the ‘70s & ‘80s with the Maynard Ferguson Orchestra, Chuck Mangione, Doc Severinsen, Roy Buchanan and the Paul Winter Consort. Back home in the Twin Cities in recent times, he has performed with many great jazz artists, including Joanne Brackeen, Rosemary Clooney, Herb Ellis, Curtis Fuller, Scott Hamilton, Slide Hampton, Sean Jones, Stacey Kent, Delfeayo Marsalis, Jay McShann, Maria Muldaur, Dewey Redman, Jim Rotondi, Diane Schuur, Ben Sidran, Freda Payne, Marlena Shaw, Toots Thielemans, plus many Minneapolis, St Paul musical artists from many genres. Gordy has produced five critically acclaimed jazz piano trio CDs which include a multitude of local and internationally known pianists and drummers: Gordon Johnson TRIOS, TRIOS V.2, TRIOS Version 3.0, TRIOS GJ4 and Trios No. Five.

Jay Epstein

Jay has put in several decades performing, recording, & touring in this jazz game. After college, he studied polyrhythmic concepts in Manhattan with Barry Altschul, the drummer in Chick Corea's Circle. Lived in Hollywood, Oklahoma City, Montana, Miami, Minneapolis, and played in house bands for 5 years on several cruise ship lines. Been on 7 European tours with pianists Bill Carrothers & Giacomo Aula. Shared a few choruses with Barney Kessel, Roseanna Vitro,  Manfredo Fest, Sheila Jordan, Terry Gibbs, Greg Abate, Claudio Roditi, Gary Foster, Eric Alexander, Richie Cole, JoAnne Brackeen, Ernie Watts, Wayne Johnson, Karrin Allyson, Kenny Werner, Howard Levy, Toots Thielemans, Avashai Cohen, and Sarah Vaughan. His CDs, 'Long Ago' & 'Easy Company', featuring bassist Anthony Cox and pianist Bill Carrothers, have garnered luminous reviews in the international press. Current bands include Red Planet, Klezmerica, Framework, Firebell, Tall Tales, & Five By Design. He endorses Bosphorus Cymbals & Ellis Drums.