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Johnny Hodges

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John Cornelius "Johnny" Hodges (Cambridge (Massachusetts), 25 July 1906 - New York CityMay 11, 1970) was an American alto saxophonist. He was best known as a saxophonist in Duke Ellington's Orchestra, where he worked for decades. He led the saxophone section. Hodges was an important sound in the band Ellington.

Johnny Hodges played the piano and drums before settling on the soprano saxophone when he was fourteen. His instrument was the Alto Saxophone shortly after. He was inspired by Sidney Bechet, from whom he also received lessons. He was mainly self-taught. Hodges played with Lloyd ScottChick Webb and Willie "the Lion" Smith, but his career truly began in 1928, when he was in the Orchestra of saxophonist Ellington. Here he would become the main saxophone player, which is an important part of the band's sound certain. Ellington wrote several compositions with a view to the sound of Hodges: "Confab with Rab" and "Jeep's Blues" (Rabbit and Jeep were nicknames of Hodges) and, for example, "Hodge Podge". Other songs in which Hodges prominent occurred included "Prelude to a Kiss", "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)", "Blood Count", "Passion Flower" and "Lotus Blossom". Hodges became the leader of Ellington's saxophone section.

In the 1930s and 1940s, he was one of the most important saxophonists Benny Carter in the jazz-only came close. He had a warm, full tone and as an improviser was resourceful and elegant. He could swing and was a master of the blues. If he played a ballad, with its recognizable pure, velvety tone, he was perhaps at its best. Many saxophonists Ben Webster to him, admired by John Coltrane. Band leader Benny Goodman, with whom Hodges in 1938 performed in the legendary Carnegie Hallconcert, called him "the greatest player on alto sax I have ever heard". Saxophonist Charlie Parker said about him: "he's the Lily Pons of his instrument". His style was often imitated.

Johnny Hodges played dozens of years at Ellington, although he was not always satisfied, particularly about his salary. Sometimes when he had delivered a beautiful solo, he made with his thumb and index finger the money reaching out to Ellington. In the 1930s, he had the opportunity every now and then with Ellington's sidemen shots. In 1951 he decided to start his own band, with which he had a hit with "Castle Rock" (the solo tenor saxophone player was blown by Al Sears). The Group of Hodges Hodges dropping in 1955 and returned to the old nest, where he would play until his death. Occasionally he made a plate outside of Ellington's band. In the 1960s he took on several albums with organist Wild Bill Davis. His last appearance was in ' Imperial Room in Toronto, a week before his death. Johnny Hodges died of a heart attack.

Discography (selection)[Edit]Edit

  • In a Tender Mood, Verve, 1952
  • Used to Be Duke, Verve, 1954
  • Duke is in Bed (Johnny Hodges and the All Stars without Duke Ellington), Verve, 1956
  • Back to Back {Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges), Verve
  • Side by Side (Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges), Verve, 1958
  • Johnny Hodges and His Strings Play the Prettiest Gershwin, Verve, 1960
  • Everybody Knows Johnny Hodges, Impulse!, 1964
  • Wings and Things (with Wild Bill Davis), Verve, 1965
  • Blue Pyramid (with Wild Bill Davis), Verve, 1965
  • Johnny Hodges and All the Dukesmen, Verve, 1966
  • The Incomparable Pairing of Blues and Johnny Hodges, Verve, 1966
  • Don't Sleep in the Subway, Verve, 1967
  • Rippin' and Runnin', Verve, 1969

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