Monday, April 12, 2010

for johnny hodges (9)

for johnny hodges
(1906 --1970)
never the world's most highly animated showman or
greatest stage personality, but a tone so beautiful
it sometimes brought tears to the eyes –
this was johnny hodges.
duke ellington

yr pure tone & economy of melody;
relaxed swing, subtle inflection & perfect
phrasing; yr lyrical poise & effortless
technique made u revered ancestor to several
generations of altos. trane admired u,
as did ben webster. & goodman called u the
greatest man on alto sax he ever heard.
even bird acknowledged yr preeminence.
tho’ often hidden in the penumbra of
the ellington orchestra, yr star shines bright
in the dazzling firmament of modern jazz.

©Joseph McNair;2010


  1. After reading johnny hodges I know that johhny hodges played in an orchestra and that because he played in a orchestra his music was often hidden but his greatness wa sacknowledged even by other talented players which was a ode to his skill. In playing the alto sax it was like he was speaking to the hearer and his sound was very pure. I'm in admiration of his skill after reading this poem.

  2. After listening to Johnny Hodges' Castle Rock and The Sunny Side of the Strret I can hear the purity of sound that the poem describes. At first when I listened to Castle Rock I didn't hear anything special that would deem him the greatest alto sax player but listening to him solo in The Sunny Side of the Street I could better understand why he was considered great.