Johnny Hodges: 310 Blues
Johnny Hodges (alto sax)
Everybody Knows (Impulse GRD-116)
Jimmy Jones (piano), Ernie Shepard (bass), Grady Tate (drums).
Composed by Billy Strayhorn.
Recorded: New York, February 6, 1964
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
This tune was specially written for this recording session by Duke Ellington's composing partner and musical soul mate Billy Strayhorn. It is a lively blues, with good momentum and a series of superb solos. Hodges leads off with a statement of the theme and embellishments, perfectly playing off the ensemble backing, and employing his famous soulful and lyrical alto sax work, with special use of that sensuous, bluesy slur up to a note that was a Johnny Hodges signature technique.
Ray Nance provides a marvelous, intense, wailing solo on cornet with a mute, including great high notes and effective descending lines. He's followed by a tenor sax solo by Paul Gonsalves that is flowing, lyrical, and less intense, making a nice contrast to Nance's solo. Cat Anderson and Lawrence Brown offer solos on muted trumpet and trombone that use the "wah-wah" technique, making those instruments talk to you with soulfulness and power. There are also some fine Ellingtonian transitions. Hodges comes back for a final solo with that gorgeous tone, playing lyrical, deeply bluesy, creative lines with excellent ensemble backing. Such playing demonstrates why noted writer on jazz and blues Albert Murray once said, "Bessie Smith could hardly sing the blues better than Johnny Hodges."
Reviewer: Dean Alger