Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 6 of 6 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,302 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
My saxophone epiphany occurred one day long ago whilst listening to one of my dad's Duke Ellington records, I was suddenly awe-struck by the sound of alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges. It was at that moment that I started saving money to buy my first alto sax. Over the years I based the concept of my sound on Hodges sound. Did I get there? Nope, not even close. But now, my sound is my own, and it's acceptable, at least from what I've been told.

Other than being known as a driving force and the major voice in the Ellington orchestra, Hodges has always been somewhat of a mystery man. A soloist that showed very little emotion while producing some of the most lush, emotional solos. Recently, a biography was published about Johnny and has helped enlighten me about my musical idol and has also prompted me to revisit his music. I have also decided to come full circle and come back to my musical roots. My plan is to devote my playing time to the melody and that pure bluesy tone I was seeking when I started playing.

Rabbit's Blues: https://artsfuse.org/187976/book-review-rabbits-blues-the-reserved-tenderness-of-johnny-hodges/
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
2,814 Posts
He was a truly unique player with his sound, style, vibrato.......hell, pretty much everything. Some of us (including me) can at times come fairly close to "imitating" some of his concepts, but I've never heard any clones of him. I think that says quite a bit in itself. While on this topic, another player who had one of the most unique styles and sounds in the history of jazz saxophone to my knowledge has pretty much NEVER been duplicated.......Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. Like Hodges, you can recognize his playing in less than three notes, but trying to duplicate it is on a whole other level.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
17,267 Posts
Thanks for sharing this. :)

Some interesting quotes:
When he was a soprano sax–playing teenager, Hodges had the chance to see and even meet Sidney Bechet, who became an important early influence. Bechet later gave him a soprano sax that he kept throughout his life. Hodges took up the alto, and it was on that horn that he made his reputation. Interestingly, in 1940, after Hodges had been with Ellington for more than a decade, he stopped playing soprano in the orchestra. The reason? He wanted double pay for playing alto and soprano and Ellington wouldn’t give it to him.
A similarly intriguing incident deals with the effect of the imposition of the Cabaret Tax in 1944. This tax was levied on any NYC venue that served food, drink, and that allowed dancing. It was a 30-percent tax, which was then lowered to 20 percent — still significant. This tax was obviously an incentive for venues to hire music only for listening, not dancing, and this, in turn, paved the way for bebop music. One didn’t find any dancing joints on 52nd St.
Hodges was a big influence on Ben Webster. I posted some years ago a thread about one of my favourite session they made together.

Check here if you want to hear it, really fresh and energetic playing of both giants:
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showt...-The-Complete-1960-Sextet-Jazz-Cellar-Session
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,302 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for sharing this. :)

Some interesting quotes:




Hodges was a big influence on Ben Webster. I posted some years ago a thread about one of my favourite session they made together.

Check here if you want to hear it, really fresh and energetic playing of both giants:
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showt...-The-Complete-1960-Sextet-Jazz-Cellar-Session
It's funny that they show the cover from Blues A-Plenty with the music from The Cellar Sessions. Both great albums. Ben Webster is another favorite of mine from my early days. Yep, I'm going back to my early inspirations now and I'm gonna immerse myself in it. I hope to find some people that will be open to playing in this style.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Technician
Joined
·
3,408 Posts
Bird likened Hodges to Lily Pons who was a famous opera singer at the time. Hodges style and concept evoked an era of sophistication and beautiful lyrical melodic phrasing,he always remained his own man who could infuse beauty with a world weary cynicism that gave his music that 'edge' A prime example of the easier it looks the harder it is to achieve. Paul Desmond took a similar path , having in common with Rabbit a 'less is more' approach but coming from a totally opposite cultural background. Hodges and Desmond probably influenced more alto players
world wide in the 1950's and '60's than all the rest put together. I know guys here in England now in their 80's who still strive to emulate these two masters of the alto. I applaud any younger person who cares to study these players nowadays -we need some beauty in the world of popular music in these turbulent times.
 
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
Top