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Johnny Hodges

John Cornelius Hodges
Rabbit or Rab

Alto Saxophonist, Composer, Bandleader

(1906 - 1970)

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Johnny Hodges was essentially self-taught, starting on drums and piano and later picking up soprano and alto sax. He became a kind of protege of clarinetist Sydney Bechet and joined his band after a stint with Willie “The Lion” Smith’s quartet, which began when he was only 18. After experiences in several other bands he joined Duke Ellington in 1928, becoming his preeminent soloist for 40 years. Duke referred to Hodges as “a consummate original” whose alto saxophone lent a distinctive sound to the Ellington recordings. In fact it was Hodges who introduced Duke’s “Prelude to a Kiss” in 1938. Throughout the ‘40s he was a consistent poll winner and is considered by many the finest alto saxophonist in jazz.

Hodges recorded with several prestigious small groups and led his own for a few years in the early ‘50s before rejoining Ellington. He co-wrote several tunes with Ellington, including “Hodge Podge,” “Jeep Is Jumpin’,” and “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be.” And Ellington, as he was wont, wrote several compositions specifically to feature Hodges’ solos. The altoist’s last recording, shortly before his sudden death, was Ellington’s “New Orleans Suite.”

- Sandra Burlingame

Johnny Hodges with Billy Strayhorn and the Orchestra

Johnny Hodges

Play the Blues Back to Back

Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington

Side By Side

Duke Ellington, Johnny Hodges

Everybody Knows

Johnny Hodges

Gerry Mulligan Meets Johnny Hodges

Gerry Mulligan

Verve Jazz Masters 35

Johnny Hodges

Stride Right

Johnny Hodges

The Stanley Dance Sessions

Billy Strayhorn, Johnny Hodges


Johnny Hodges

The Jeep is Jumpin'

Johnny Hodges

Things Ain't What They Used to Be

Rex Stewart & Johnny Hodges

Ella/Things Ain't What They Used To Be

Ella Fitzgerald

Jeep's Blues

Johnny Hodges
Reading and Viewing

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Stanley Dance

The World of Duke Ellington

Da Capo Press

(Includes a ten-page chapter on Hodges and numerous references to him)

Stanley Dance

Johnny Hodges (Giants of jazz)

Time-Life Records


DownBeat - The Great Jazz Interviews (A 75th Anniversary Anthology) (Book)

Hal Leonard

Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Mercer Ellington, Johnny Hodges, Don Morrow (II)

On the Road with Duke Ellington


DVD (Includes Johnny Hodges)

Duke Ellington

The Intimate Duke Ellington (1967)


DVD (Includes Johnny Hodges)

Johnny Hodges, Clark Terry, Duke Ellington, Harry Carney, Paul Gonsalves

Jazz Icons: Duke Ellington Live in ‘58

Jazz Icons


Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington & His Orchestra 1929-1943

Storyville Films


Georgie Auld, Morey Feld, Urbie Green, Bobby Hackett, Johnny Hodges

Jazz Festival, Vol. 2

Storyville Films


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