Willie Cook, Clark Terry, Cat Anderson, Harold 'Shorty' Baker (tp), Ray Nance (tp, vln, vcl), Lawrence Brown, Quentin Jackson, John Sanders, Britt Woodman (tb), Johnny Hodges (as), Russell Procope (cl, as), Jimmy Hamilton (cl, ts), Paul Gonsalves (ts), Harry Carney (bs), Billy Strayhorn (p), Jimmy Woode (b), Sam Woodyard (d)
Reference: FSRCD 573_2
Bar code: 8427328605731
Includes a 16-page booklet with recording details, extensive notes and rare photos.
The music here defies fad and fashion. Johnny Hodges and his alto sax speak with trademark elegance and eloquencepart and parcel of having been with the Duke Ellington Orchestra in its most celebrated days.
The sides included come from three of Hodges classic albums: Ellingtonia 56, Dukes in Bed and The Big Sound, and the formations range from large combo units to the full-fledged Ellington band (without Duke). Rich, rocking, blue-boned relaxation is the mood, and this set of Hodges-guided numbers is full of his inimitable swing and ever present touches of warmth and humour.
"No surprises, but the sessions were as good as one might hope. Gathered here was the Ellington band with Billy Strayhorn at the piano. While it was not an Ellington record, the band brought its solid qualities in backing and the occasional solo to all the fine Hodges features. This was an integrated unit, not some detached studio band for Hodges to blow over, under, around, and through. It was wonderful Hodges and fine Ellington."
Bob Rush -Cadence
"As Duke Ellington's altoist during 1928-51 and 1955-70, Johnny Hodges became world famous and beloved by jazz fans. His luscious tone and melodic style on ballads, blues and swing tunes was highly influential, making him the top altoist (along with Benny Carter) before the rise of Charlie Parker. Hodges led quite a few sessions of his own along the way,. During 1951-55 broke away from Ellington to lead his own combo, before returning for another 15 years.
While Mosaic previously released Hodges' solo recordings of the 1950s on two box sets, those are long out of print. Fresh Sound has come out with four reissues dating from that era. The two-CD set Johnny Hodges And The Ellington Men (FSR 573) has music from three Hodges albums: Ellingtonia '56, Duke's In Bed and The Big Sound. Hodges is heard with small groups and on a full album leading the Ellington Orchestra (with Strayhorn on piano). Not too surprisingly, many of the songs are from the Ellington book although there are also a fair number of heated riff pieces."
Scott Yanow -Los Angeles Jazz Scene (May, 2010)
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