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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Used To Be Duke

Verve 06025 17967182




  1. Used To Be Duke
  2. On the Sunny Side of the Street
  3. Sweet As Bear Meat
  4. Madam Butterfly
  5. Warm Valley
  6. Autumn In New York
  7. Sweet Lorraine
  8. Time On My Hands
  9. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
  10. If You Were
  11. Poor Butterfly

Johnny Hodges & His Orchestra:
Johnny Hodges (alto saxophone); John Coltrane (tenor saxophone); Harry Carney (baritone saxophone); Harold "Shorty" Baker (trumpet); Lawrence Brown (trombone); Jimmy Hamilton (clarinet); Richard Powell, Call Cobbs (piano); John Williams (bass); Louis Bellson (drums)
rec. Los Angeles, California, 1954


This session has been re-released before by Verve [849394.2] but there we had extra tracks; this straight gatefold reissue thus loses Skokiaan amongst others. Meanwhile another Verve reissue has included Burgundy Walk.

The 1954 session of past and present members of the Ellington band under Hodges's leadership proved to be tried and tested. The title track is a Jump swinger with the leader searing and direct, Shorty Baker growling, and Lawrence Brown leading the righteous with an injection of backing riffs from the band. Simple, skeletal and hugely effective. There are occasionally off-recording perspectives; on Madam Butterfly the recording deliberately distances Hodges and his lightly quasi-boppish licks add an intriguing gloss to the Jump vocabulary. Hodges is actually at his most lascivious in Warm Valley, which shows a voluptuary in action. Other members of the band are impressive though. Richard Powell takes an ornate, classical piano introduction on Autumn In New York before the leader established his blues credentials. Harry Carney is gorgeously lyrical on his feature Smoke Gets In Your Eyes - and he was truly one of the inimitable Sounds of Jazz. There are ballad medleys as well in which Hodges, Baker, and Powell star, in addition to Carney. Jimmy Hamilton is rather underused and John Coltrane - don't get too excited - is heard only in backing figures; he doesn't take a solo.

Something has gone badly wrong with the track listing in my copy. From track 7 things go out of sync and the last track of all is All of Me, which isn't even listed. I don't know what's happened here.

Jonathan Woolf

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