Bob Wilber

A Perfect Match: A Tribute to Hodges & Wild Bill Davis

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In the 1960s altoist Johnny Hodges and organist Wild Bill Davis recorded eight albums together, several of which included trombonist Lawrence Brown. This 1997 set sounds very similar to that band and would probably confuse listeners in a blindfold test. Bob Wilber, normally a soprano saxophonist and clarinetist, always did sound a bit like Hodges on alto, but the biggest surprise is Dick Hyman. On piano, Hyman has displayed the ability to do close impressions of nearly every jazz stylist. He sticks to organ throughout this date and sounds exactly like Davis both in tone and ideas. With trombonist Britt Woodman (who played alongside Lawrence Brown for a time in Duke Ellington's band), guitarist James Chirillo, bassist Phil Flanigan, and drummer Joe Ascione, Wilber and Hyman perform songs either written by Hodges or closely associated with the group. Some are numbers that have rarely been performed since the Hodges/Davis band, including "Wings N' Things," "Taffy," and the catchy "L.B. Blues." Even the more familiar tunes (such as "In a Mellotone," "It's Only a Paper Moon," and "It Don't Mean a Thing") are played in the style of the group. Two offbeat selections, Charlie Chaplin's "Eternally" and Wilber's tribute to Hodges ("Cote d'Azur"), also fit into the idiom. Although purposely derivative, the music is so well played (and fairly obscure) that both Hodges and Davis fans will want this unusual tribute.

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