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Home » blog » Johnny Hodges “Isfahan” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”
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Johnny Hodges “Isfahan” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”

 

Johnny Hodges was a giant. Here is some of his profile at the Encyclopedia Britannica:

Hodges played lead alto in Ellington’s sax section; his melody lines were an important component in the band’s palette of sounds. He was featured on countless Ellington recordings, demonstrating his skill at ballads (“Warm Valley,” “Passion Flower,” “In a Sentimental Mood”) and up-tempo numbers (“Things Ain’t What They Used to Be,” “The Jeep Is Jumpin’”). He projected sensuous elegance through a commanding sound and perfected the use of portamento (or “smearing” in jazz vernacular), in which the instrument glides from note to note in the manner of a slide trombone. His basic style did not change throughout the years, but his considerable technique and harmonic sense ensured that his solos always sounded fresh and contemporary.

Hodges was so closely associated with Ellington that jazz fans were taken by surprise when he left the band in 1951 to form his own combo. Other Ellington veterans such as Lawrence Brown and Sonny Greer, as well as the young John Coltrane, played in Hodges’s band. They had one hit recording, “Castle Rock,” but lasting success proved elusive, and they disbanded in 1955. Hodges rejoined the Ellington orchestra and remained with Ellington until his death, although he continued to engage in side projects and lead occasional recording sessions under his own name. (Continue Reading…)

Above is “Isfahan,” which is the name of a city in  Iran. It was written by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn in connection with a tour the big band took to the east. Here is more. “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” is below.

Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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