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.