Johnny Hodges

Stride Right

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The 1966 meeting of alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges and pianist Earl Hines in the studio should be considered a cause for celebration for swing fans. Accompanied by a rhythm section including guitarist Kenny Burrell, bassist Richard Davis, and drummer Joe Marshall, the two giants make magic together as they explore originals by each of the leaders, as well as gems from the Ellington songbook. Hines' "Caution Blues" (which is better known as "Blues in Thirds") serves as a mellow introduction. Hines shows off his still potent stride piano chops in his delightful "Stride Right," which causes everyone but Marshall to duck out except for the theme statements. But the two giants especially stimulate one another in the swinging take of Hines' well-known "Rosetta." Hodges moves to the forefront with the snappy rendition of "Perdido," which also has fine solos by Davis and Burrell. The alto saxophonist especially seems to enjoy the brisk pace of "I'm Beginning to See the Light." Hines incorporates Ellington's affinity for train-like licks with the improvised introduction to the swinging "'C' Jam Blues," which Hodges suggested that he repeat after he initially played it during their final chorus of "Perdido" earlier in the session. This highly recommended Verve LP is long overdue to be reissued on CD.

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