When I was much younger, the first Johnny Hodges I heard was "Don't Get Around Much Anymore". I remember listening to him bend notes and wondering if I could do that (short answer-no). But later when I heard him play "I Got it Bad.... it seemed like he was now bending octaves. What an amazing player.
I transcribed the version of I Got It Bad from the Newport concert. That bend into the high E is WICKED, (incidentally, that's a 9th, not an octave; D2 to E3) especially trying to get that clear, fast vibrato. Strangely enough, in a way I actually prefer the live recording rather than the redubbed version. It's kind of nice to be reminded that even the greats can sometimes frak a note.
One more, check out the You Tuba video of "All of Me" - from the fifties. An added bonus is that you get to SEE the way Hodges played, complete with eye-rolling and that splay legged stance that looks like a Mack truck couldn't knock him over. And so calm. Never hurried, no matter how fast he was playing. The little "deedly-bop" at the end of his solo is priceless. Listen to how much variation of tone and articulation he uses. (I commented on another thread recently about a "classical" sax professor who presented a "jazz style" piece and just played everything with the same unvarying raspy sound and robotic vibrato, comparing it to this recording. The professors never get it.)
Funny enough, my first real exposure to Jeep was on the Charlie Parker: Best of the Verve Years CD, which I picked up in High School. If you've never checked out that collection, it has Funky Blues off the Jam Sessions album, and I was blown away by his sound and how he approached his notes. Up to then I was devouring all things Bird, but after that I started listening to even more of Jeep.
Incidentally, I think that Jam Sessions album is a criminally under-appreciated gem. I see a lot of people dismiss it because it's not Bird really cutting loose and going on that he's being "held back," or that it's false advertising since he's only one of a group rather than the starring attraction (or depending on WHICH release he's only on four out of twelve songs; there's a two-disk vinyl set that has the four recordings with Parker mixed in with takes from other sessions). Meanwhile I'm thinking...You have Bird, Rabbit, and Frog all playing together on one album. As far as I know it's the ONLY time Parker and Hodges ever played together, much less all THREE of them. That ALONE is worth the price of admission.
Bird called Hodges Lily Pons. I read that many years ago and 'didn't get it'. A long time afterwards I learned that Ms. Pons was indeed a great opera singer at the New York Metro-then 'I got it'
Hodges was taught and influenced by Sidney Bechet early on and then became 'his own man' both of these great players concentrated on melodic line and beautiful phrases-everything had to flow. When I was teaching I encouraged pupils -especially alto players- to listen to great singers and make the horn an extension of the voice- unfortunately this mostly fell on deaf ears. Hodges and Bechet 'extemporise' rather than 'improvise' very often, this is an art in itself, Stan Getz could do this and Paul Desmond-'variations on a theme'- very few approach jazz in this manner nowadays.
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