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



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JOHNNY HODGES

Not So Dukish

American Jazz Classics 99057

 

 

1. M.H.R
2. Broadway Babe
3. Three and Six
4. Not So Dukish
5. Central Park Swing
6. Preacher Blues
7. Jeep Bounced Back
8. The Last Time I Saw Paris
9. First Klass (aka C'mon Home)
10. Second Klass
11. Straight Back
12. Steerage
13. Third Klass
14. Once in a While
15. Blues Serenade

Johnny Hodges - Alto sax
Ben Webster - Tenor sax (tracks 1-13)
Roy Eldridge, Ray Nance - Trumpets (tracks 1-8)
Lawrence Brown - Trombone (tracks 1-8)
Jimmy Hamilton - Clarinet (tracks 1-13)
Billy Strayhorn - Piano (tracks 1-8)
Jimmy Woode - Bass (tracks 1-8)
Sam Woodyard - Drums (tracks 1-8)
Shorty Baker - Trumpet (tracks 9-13)
Quentin Jackson, John Sanders - Trombones (tracks 9-13)
Jimmy Jones - Piano (tracks 9-15)
Les Spann - Guitar, flute (tracks 9-13)
Ray Brown - Bass (tracks 9-13)
Jo Jones - Drums (tracks 9-13)
Aaron Bell - Bass (tracks 14, 15)
Sonny Greer - Drums (tracks 14, 15)

 

The title of this 1958 album is rather ironical, as most of the participants are Ellingtonians who wrote most of the music. It may be "Not So Dukish" because it omits any compositions by Duke Ellington, but the Ducal atmosphere is evident throughout.

The original LP contained the first eight tracks here, all written by Johnny Hodges, Billy Strayhorn and other Ellingtonians, except for the final The Last Time I Saw Paris, a Jerome Kern invention. The music is good-time bluesy material, with excellent solos from the likes of the smooth Jimmy Hamilton and Ben Webster plus the outspoken Roy Eldridge and Ray Nance, as well as Hodges himself. In fact Hodges' playing is superior to anybody else's, especially in the feature Three and Six, where Johnny's lyrical side is allowed full reign. He is also outstanding in the title-track, where Sam Woodyard's offbeat rimshots recall the Ellington Orchestra. The last track on the original LP has Hodges stepping subtly through The Last Time I Saw Paris, accompanied only by the rhythm section.

This reissue adds another complete session from 1959 which first appeared on a compilation LP, again featuring Hodges with Ben Webster. This session has more forward impetus, driven along by Ray Brown's impeccable double bass. It is also good to encounter guitarist/flautist Les Spann, who is less well-known than he should be. He adds some tasteful punctuations. The other notable soloists are trumpeter Shorty Baker and (again) Jimmy Hamilton. All five tunes were written by Johnny Hodges in that easy-going style which one soon becomes aware of. Note Jo Jones' perfect drum breaks in Second Klass

Two tracks from 1960 fill out the CD, with Hodges accompanied simply by a rhythm section in two moody ballads. If you like Johnny Hodges (and everyone should) or just good music generally, this album is for you.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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