Rabbit's Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges

Rabbit's Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges

by Con Chapman


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In his eulogy of saxophonist Johnny Hodges (1907-70), Duke Ellington ended with the words, "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. This is Johnny Hodges." Hodges' unforgettable tone resonated throughout the jazz world over the greater part of the twentieth century. Benny Goodman described Hodges as "by far the greatest man on alto sax that I ever heard," and Charlie Parker compared him to Lily Pons, the operatic soprano. As a teenager, Hodges developed his playing style by imitating Sidney Bechet, the New Orleans soprano sax player, then honed it in late-night cutting sessions in New York and a succession of bands lead by Chick Webb, Willie "The Lion" Smith, and Luckey Roberts. In 1928 he joined Duke Ellington, beginning an association that would continue, with one interruption, until Hodges' death. Hodges' celebrated technique and silky tone marked him then, and still today, as one of the most important and influential saxophone players in the history of jazz. As the first ever biography on Johnny Hodges, Rabbit's Blues details his place as one of the premier artists of the alto sax in jazz history, and his role as co-composer with Ellington.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780190653903
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 09/02/2019
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 257,645
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Con Chapman's work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Boston Globe and The Christian Science Monitor, and his writings on jazz have appeared in The American Bystander, The Boston Herald and Brilliant Corners. He is the author of two novels, thirty-two stage plays, fifty books of humor, and The Year of the Gerbil, a history of the 1978 Red Sox-Yankees pennant race.

Table of Contents


1. A Sax is Born
2. Young Man With a Sax
3. His Tone
4. Scuffling in New York
5. The Competition
6. The Partnership Begins
7. Women and Children
8. Outside the Ellington Constellation: 30's and 40's
9. The Small Groups
10. Swee' Pea
11. Blanton, Webster and the Forties
12. Food and Drink
13. The Coming of Bird
14. The Rabbit Strays
15. The Rabbit Returns
16. Outside the Ellington Constellation: 50's and 60's
17. The Quality of Song
18. Lagomorphology
19. The Blues
20. The Out Chorus


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