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Hodge Podge

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Album Review

This is a good set that should have been a great one. Rather than reissue all 43 of altoist Johnny Hodges's small-group dates for Vocalion and Okeh, this CD (which should have been two) only contains 16. The music is often classic small-group swing ("Jeep's Blues," "Hodge Podge" and "Rent Party Blues" are among the highpoints) and there are several superb examples of Hodges playing soprano (showing off the influence of Sidney Bechet) but many valuable performances are missing. The problem is that the set is a straight reissue (although with some new liner notes) of an Epic LP rather than being an improvement. This important material deserves to be repackaged in a more complete fashion.


Born: July 25, 1907 in Cambridge, MA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s

Possessor of the most beautiful tone ever heard in jazz, altoist Johnny Hodges formed his style early on and had little reason to change it through the decades. Although he could stomp with the best swing players and was masterful on the blues, Hodges' luscious playing on ballads has never been topped. He played drums and piano early on before switching to soprano sax when he was 14. Hodges was taught and inspired by Sidney Bechet, although he soon used alto as his main ax; he would regretfully drop...
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