Johnny Hodges

Johnny Hodges

Infobox musical artist
Name = Johnny Hodges

Img_capt = Johnny Hodges in concert, Feb. 6, 1965
Img_size = 200
Landscape =
Background = non_vocal_instrumentalist
Birth_name = John Cornelius Hodges
Alias =
Born = birth date|1906|7|25
Died = death date and age|1970|5|11|1906|7|25
Origin = Cambridge, Massachusetts
Instrument = Alto saxophone
Soprano saxophone
Voice_type =
Genre = Ballads
Mainstream jazz
Occupation = Saxophonist
Years_active =
Label =
Associated_acts = Sidney Bechet
Lucky Roberts
Chick Webb
Current_members =
Past_members =
Notable_instruments = Selmer Mark 6

John Cornelius "Johnny" Hodges (25 July, 1906 in Cambridge, Massachusetts11 May, 1970) was an American alto saxophonist and lead player of Duke Ellington's saxophone section. [ [|HODGES&samples=1&sql=11:diftxqt5ldde~T1 allmusic ((( Johnny Hodges > Biography ))) ] ] He spent 38 years with Ellington, leaving to lead his own band from 1951 to 1955, returning to the fold shortly before Ellington's triumphant return to prominence via the orchestra's performance at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival. Hodges started playing with Lloyd Scott, Sidney Bechet, Lucky Roberts and Chick Webb. When Ellington wanted to expand his band in 1928, Ellington's clarinet player Barney Bigard recommended Hodges, who was featured on both alto and soprano sax. His playing became the identifying voice of the Ellington orchestra.


Hodges was mostly self-taught, although he did take lessons on soprano sax with Bechet. Johnny Hodges was one of the prominent Ellington Band members who featured in Benny Goodman's legendary 1938 Carnegie Hall concert. Benny Goodman claimed Hodges was "the greatest man on alto sax I ever heard." Charlie Parker called him "the Lily Pons of his instrument."

Ellington's practice of writing tunes specifically for members of his orchestra resulted in the Hodges specialties, "Confab with Rab", "Jeep's Blues", and "Hodge Podge". Other songs recorded by the Ellington Orchestra which prominently feature Hodges' smooth alto-saxophone are "Magenta Haze", "Prelude to a Kiss", "Haupe" (from "Anatomy of a Murder"), "The Star-Crossed Lovers" from Ellington's "Such Sweet Thunder" suite, "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)", "Blood Count" and "Passion Flower".

Generations of saxophonists turn to 1963 recording "The Great Paris Concert", in which Hodges' lyrical poise is captured well, particularly on "On the Sunny Side of the Street".

He had a pure tone and economy of melody on both the blues and ballads that won him admiration from musicians of all eras and styles, from Ben Webster to John Coltrane, both of whom played with him when he had his own orchestra in the 1950s, to Lawrence Welk, who featured him in an album of standards. His highly individualistic playing style, which featured the use of a wide vibrato and much sliding between slurred notes, was frequently imitated. He earned the nicknames "Rabbit" (for his enjoyment of lettuce sandwiches) and "Jeep" (for his apparent speed as a runner).Fact|date=February 2007

Hodges led the Ellington saxophone section. A small highly precise man, his last performances were at the Imperial Room in Toronto, less than a week before his death from a heart attack. His last recordings are featured on "The New Orleans Suite", incomplete on his death.

In Ellington's eulogy of Hodges he said: "Never the world's most highly animated showman or greatest stage personality, but a tone so beautiful it sometimes brought tears to the eyes - this was Johnny Hodges. This is Johnny Hodges."


*1951: "Castle Rock
*1956: "Ellington At Newport
*1958: "Blues-A-Plenty" (Verve Music Group)
*1959: "Side by Side" (with Duke Ellington)
*1959: "Back to Back" (with Duke Ellington)
*1964: "Everybody Knows Johnny Hodges" (Impulse! Records)
*19??"More of Johnny Hodges and his Orchestra"(Norgran Records)
*1967: "Triple Play"


1965 Johnny Hodges and Wild Bill Davis recorded album CON -SOUL RCA Stereo #LSP-3393

1974 Johnny Hodges & Lalo Schifrin Verve Records 2304 186 Tracks: Side One of two 1, Mama Knows. 2, I'm In Another World. 3, Dreary Days. 4, I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me. 5, B.A. Blues.Side Two Of two. 1, Wanderlust. 2, All Too Soon. 3, Somebody Loves Me. 4, Away From You.Produced by that great producer Creed Taylor.Muso's on LP J.H Alto Sax. Lalo Schifrin Piano. Barry Galbraith Guitar. George Duvivier Bass. Dave Bailey Drums. And with a great article from Leaonard Feather. author of From Satchmo To Miles. (Stein & Day.)

External links

* [ A Tribute To Johnny Hodges]

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