Johnny Hodges

Blue Notes

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Unlike Johnny Hodges' vast majority of small group recordings records made for Verve during the 1960s, Blue Notes is a big-band affair and frequent collaborator Wild Bill Davis is absent. Instead, the veteran alto saxophonist is backed by an all-star group with arrangements by conductor Jimmy Jones. Hodges' gorgeous tone and effortless ability to swing are the cornerstones of the album, especially in a stunning, very slow performance of "I Can't Believe That You're in Love With Me" and the jaunty original by the leader, "L.B. Blues." One of the more unusual tracks, the funky "Rent City," adds Buddy Lucas on harmonica. The supporting cast includes fellow Ellington veteran Jimmy Hamilton, Hank Jones, Frank Wess, and Ernie Royal. Tracking down a copy of this long unavailable LP by Hodges will take some effort.

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