Archive for the Johnny HODGES Category

Johnny HODGES and Wild Bill DAVIS – Blue Rabbit 1963

Posted in JAZZ, Johnny HODGES, Wild Bill DAVIS on December 22, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Johnny HODGES and Wild Bill DAVIS – Blue Rabbit  1963


One of altoist Johnny Hodges’ many solo records in the 1960s away from Duke Ellington’s Orchestra,
this out-of-print LP features him in two separate but similar settings. The great saxophonist
is joined by either Wild Bill Davis or (on four of the nine songs) the obscure organist
Ray Jackson, either Kenny Burrell or Mundell Lowe on guitar, Wendell Marshall, Jack Lesberg
or Richard Davis on bass, and Bobby Donaldson or Osie Johnson on drums. The music is fairly
typical for a Hodges date, with four Ellington standards, some blues and some basic originals.
In a few spots, the organists really do a good job of filling in for the Ellington Orchestra.
Tasty and swinging music.
By Scott Yanow, All Music Guide.
A1. Blues O Mighty
A2. Fiddlers Fancy
A3. Tangerine
A4. Creole Love Call
B1. Things Aint What They Used To Be
B2. Wisteria
B3. Satin Doll
B4. I Let A Song Go Out of My Heart
B5. Mud Pie
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Johnny HODGES – The Complete Verve, Johnny Hodges Small Group Sessions (1956-1961) 2000

Posted in JAZZ, Johnny HODGES on November 23, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Johnny HODGES –  The Complete Verve, Johnny Hodges Small Group Sessions (1956-1961) 2000


Johnny Hodges was Duke Ellington’s most important soloist, so when the alto saxophonist returned to his former employer in the fall of 1955 after leading his own band for just over four and a half years, he had Ellington’s approval to record under his own name for Verve on a steady basis. This limited-edition box set collects all of Hodges’ small-group sessions recorded for Verve between 1956 and 1961 (excepting some selections whose masters were lost), often with a number of sidemen on loan from Ellington. The leader’s chops are best exhibited in the ballads and blues features, though his originals merit attention, too. Hodges hardly hogs the spotlight; he obviously takes his share of solos but generously features his guests and associates from the Ellington band. A nonet with Clark Terry, Ray Nance, Quentin Jackson, Jimmy Hamilton, Harry Carney, Billy Strayhorn, Jimmy Woode, and Sam Woodyard is easily the best all-around session within this compilation, with many fine tracks. The humorous “Just Squeeze Me,” with Nance’s hip vocals complemented by Terry’s talkative horn in the background, as well as a surprising extended workout of “Take the ‘A’ Train,” with Terry taking over the famous solo spotlight that Nance first recorded in 1941 (heard on flügelhorn) and followed by Nance on his swinging violin, are among its highlights. Some of the other veterans appearing in this collection include Roy Eldridge, Vic Dickenson, Ben Webster, and Herb Ellis. The atmosphere of each session is friendly and swinging, with the feeling that each take came together quickly, whether or not that was actually the case. While Johnny Hodges’ recordings as a leader from this period never rivaled Duke Ellington’s in either sales or critical acclaim, they proved to be consistently enjoyable and able to stand the test of time. The set includes 30 previously unissued tracks. The detailed liner notes and discography, along with the numerous photos, also help to make The Complete Verve Johnny Hodges Small Group Sessions 1956-1961 an essential purchase for swing fans, though it is a limited edition of just 7,500, so it is guaranteed to soar in value. It is available exclusively from
By Ken Dryden, All Music Guide.
You know, things just ain’t what they used to be. There was a time when the average blue-collar worker could stay with a job 30 or 40 years without so much as a care. The same held true for many musicians who happened to be caught in the orbit of Duke Ellington’s mercurial jazz institution. For Johnny Hodges, the Ellington band provided the alto sax legend’s bread and butter for much of his natural life. First, there was the 22 years that he spent with Duke from 1928 to 1950, followed by five years out on his own and then a second stay with Ellington from 1955 to Hodges’ death in 1970.
The foregoing provides a basis for understanding Hodges’ solo work, which was done almost exclusively for the Verve imprimatur. The first spate of activity with Hodges as a leader came about during the five years that he split from the Ellington fold, with that material collated on a previous Mosaic boxed set that alas is long gone. The focal point of the set at hand is Verve material that was recorded during the time when Hodges had rejoined the Duke’s band, although technically not everything he did for Verve during the years 1956 to 1961 is included. The large band titles from the albums Ellingtonia ‘56 and The Big Sound, the sessions with Duke Ellington as heard on Back To Back and Side By Side, and a “with strings” date entitled The Prettiest Gershwin are not to be found here. Furthermore, the late sixties sessions with Wild Bill Davis, Earl Hines and the like (anyone remember the forgettable Don’t Sleep In the Subway ?) are not included.

Hopefully no one will muse greatly what has been left out of this transcendent collection, because what is inside this box is nothing short of marvelous. In fact, the only reason to get into minutia here is to insure that diehard collectors are aware of the exact contents. Disc one gets us going with the small ensemble tracks from the album Ellingtonia ‘56 along with introducing us to the distinguished sidemen that appear throughout this package, such as Lawrence Brown, Jimmy Hamilton, Sam Woodyard, and Billy Strayhorn. The same selective process holds suit for the four smaller group tracks included from a big band album aptly entitled The Big Sound.

The core of the previously released material comes from three Hodges albums, each one a masterpiece and only one of them previously available on compact disc. Duke’s In Bed was cut at a Chicago session in 1956 and features the trumpets of Clark Terry and Ray Nance, along with Quentin “Butter” Jackson, Jimmy Hamilton, and Harry Carney. From two dates in 1958 come the title Not So Dukish and Blues-A-Plenty (this album is the one that has previously been reissued as a gold disc from Classic Records). Tenor giant Ben Webster is an incredibly valuable asset on such gems as “Honey Hill,” “Saturday Afternoon Blues,” and “Preacher Blues.” Second only to Lawrence Brown, another great swing trombone stylist, Vic Dickenson, makes the scene on Blues-A-Plenty.

Up next for our perusal are two sessions that were never released at the time, only to appear in 1979 on the two-record set A Smooth One. One dates from 1959 and the other from 1960, both of them considerably Ellingtonian in character. We get to meet a few new names that were not part of the earlier sets including trumpeter Shorty Baker, guitarist Les Spann, tenor man Harold Ashby and bassist Aaron Bell. The need for further description seems merely superfluous. Hodges and his men came to swing and that they did. Why these tapes were released at such a late date is merely inexplicable.

Now we come to a mother load of previously unreleased performances that fills up nearly two and a half discs. The first of these, from November of 1960, was recorded on the West Coast and sports merely Hodges, Webster, and a rhythm section including guitarist Herb Ellis. Nothing too pretentious here, but things groove along nicely anyway. Fast forward one month for the only real clinker of the lot. Hodges and Lawrence Brown front a top quality backing group, but focus on ballad tempos for the duration of the program. Possibly John Clements says it best in his liner notes when he comments that “everything is well played, [but] it is rather like having spaghetti for dinner every day for 11 days!” Much more rewarding are the two final sessions from January and February of 1961. A meeting of the minds for Ellington sidemen and West Coast luminaries, such as vibraphonist Emil Richards, pianist Russ Freeman, and bassist Leroy Vinnegar, makes for merriment of the Hodges persuasion.

So in the final analysis, one couldn’t be better-off with the reissue of several long unavailable Hodges classics with more than a few bonus selections thrown in for good measure. Presentation is outstanding, as is always the case with Mosaic. The 12 x 12 box includes six discs and a 20-page booklet. Session by session commentary is provided, along with brief bio information on all the key players, and photos from the cameras of Burt Goldblatt, Francis Wolff, and Jack Bradley.
By C. Andrew Hovan.
Roy Eldridge- (Trumpet),(Flugelhorn),
Herb Ellis- (Guitar),
Ben Webster, Jimmy Forrest, Harold Ashby- (Tenor Sax),
Johnny Hodges, Russell Procope- (Alto Sax),
Les Spann- (Guitar), (Flugelhorn),
Clark Terry, Ray Nance, Shorty Baker- (Trumpet),
Ray Brown, Leroy Vinnegar, Aaron Bell, Jimmy Woode, Joe Mondragon, Wendell Marshall, Wilfred Middlebrooks- (Bass),
Billy Strayhorn, Lou Levy- (Piano),
Booty Wood, Quentin Jackson, Vic Dickenson, John Sanders- (Trombone),
Emil Richard- (Vibraphone),
Harry Carney- (Baritone Sax),
Jimmy Hamilton (Clarinet,Tenor Sax),
Jo Jones, Mel Lewis, Sonny Greer, Sam Woodyard, Gus Johnson- (Drums)
Disc 1

01. Hi ‘Ya
02. Snibor
03. I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter
04. Texas Blues
05. A-Oddie-Oobie
06. Meet Mr. Rabbit
07. Duke’s in Bed
08. Just Squeeze Me (But Don’t Tease Me)
09. Ballade for Very Tired and Very Sad Lotus Eaters
10. Confab with Rab
11. It Had to Be You
12. Black and Tan Fantasy
13. Take the “A” Train
14. Viscount
15. Bouquet of Roses
16. Digits

Disc 2

01. Early Morning Rock
02. Blues-A-Plenty
03. Cool Your Motor
04. Gone with the Wind
05. Honey Hill
06. I Didn’t Know About You
07. Satin Doll
08. Reeling and Rocking
09. Don’t Take Your Love from Me
10. Saturday Afternoon Blues
11. Just a Memory
12. Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love)
13. Big Shoe
14. Ruint
15. Bend One
16. You Need to Rock

Disc 3

01. M.H.R.
02. Broadway Babe
03. Three and Six
04. Not So Dukish
05. Central Park Swing
06. Preacher Blues
07. Jeep Bounced Back
08. Last Time I Saw Paris
09. First Klass (C’mon Home)
10. Second Klass
11. Straight Back
12. Steerage
13. Third Klass
14. Meet the Frog
15. Nite Life
16. My Melancholy Baby
17. Lotus Blossom
18. Free for All

Disc 4

01. Br’ Rabbit
02. Starting with You (I’m Through)
03. The Hare
04. The Things You Miss
05. I Told You So
06. Wiggle Awhile
07. Get Ready
08. The Peaches Are Better Down the Road
09. Hygiene
10. Ben’s Web
11. Side Door (Don’t Kid Yourself)
12. Blues’ll Blow Your Fuse
13. I Can’t Believe That You’re in Love with Me
14. Dual Highway

Disc 5

01. Big Ears
02. Shorty Gull
03. Ifida
04. Big Smack
05. I’d Be There
06. Just Another Day
07. Lollalagin Now
08. Medley Am I BlueSomething to Remember You By
09. Once in a While
10. Do Nothin’ Till You Hear from Me
11. Medley More Than You KnowMemories of You
12. The Very Thought of You
13. When Your Lover Has Gone
14. Blues Serenade
15. Night and Day
16. Lover, Come Back to Me
17. I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues
18. Two Sleepy People

Disc 6

01. Exactly Like You
02. I’m Beginning to See the Light
03. Val’s Lament
04. Tipsy Joe
05. Waiting on the Champagne
06. Sweet Cookie
07. Frog Hop
08. Zag Zig
09. Dag Knows
10. Twice Daily
11. John Smith
12. Romeo
13. Black Sapphire

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