Johnny Hodges: Prelude to a Kiss


Prelude to a Kiss


Johnny Hodges (alto sax)


Duke's Men: The Small Groups, Vol. 2 (Columbia/Legacy 48835)

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Johnny Hodges (alto sax), Mary McHugh (vocals), Cootie Williams (trumpet), Lawrence Brown (trombone), Otto Hardwick (alto sax), Harry Carney (baritone sax), Duke Ellington (piano), Billy Taylor (bass), Sonny Greer (drums).

Composed by Duke Ellington, Irving Gordon & Irving Mills


Recorded: New York, August 24, 1938


Rating: 94/100 (learn more)

Two weeks after recording "Prelude to a Kiss" under Ellington's aegis, Johnny Hodges switched from soprano to alto sax, added vocalist Mary McHugh and redid his boss' serenade under his own name. If Miss McHugh found the song daunting, it doesn't show. She handles its slippery chromatic slopes and heady intervallic ascents with affecting naturalness, setting up a half-chorus of Rabbit at his languid best. Whereas the Maestro's first version of what would become a standard was overly sentimental, Hodges and McHugh clarify Duke's masterful construction with simplicity and directness. The lyric contends, "You could turn it to a symphony: a Schubert tune with a Gershwin touch." We prefer an Ellington tune with a Hodges touch.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz

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  • 1 Bud Jetaire // Feb 15, 2009 at 06:20 PM
    At an early Fifties club performance by Hodges in New Jersey, during the stretch when he had split from the Duke, a skinny sprout named Johnny Updike is supposed to have yelled out, "Let that Rabbit run!" The bouncer ejected him immediately, and so the pimply kid lost his taste for Jazz--started trying to attract girls some other way. Hodges, implacable as ever, just ignored the whole thing.