During a European tour by the Duke Ellington Orchestra, alto star Johnny Hodges had an opportunity to lead an octet (mostly comprised of Ellington's sidemen) at a few recording sessions. He enjoyed the experience so much that by the following year Hodges left Ellington and for four years was a bandleader himself. The results of the 1950 sessions (which also feature trumpeter Harold Baker, trombonist Quentin Jackson, clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton and guest tenorman Don Byas) are concise (all of the songs clock in around the three-minute mark) but make very good use of each second. The riff-filled originals, standards and Ellington-associated tunes receive swinging treatment by these classic all-stars, making this an LP whose contents deserve to be reissued on CD.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow