The superb November 1960 session recorded by the Ben Webster-Johnny Hodges sextet in studio conditions at the Jazz Cellar, in San Francisco (without an audience). It is presented here in its complete form for the first time ever.
These recordings are exceptional in that no other date exists in their collaborative discography featuring them as the only horns. The two great saxophonists were the only horn players heard at the session. They were backed by a rhythm section of piano, guitar, bass and drums.
A complete (and very rare) octet session featuring Webster and Hodges from August 27, 1964, has been added as a bonus to this new DSD 256 Stereo release.
Ben Webster and Johnny Hodges had already known each other for over 25 years by the time they recorded the present date together at The Jazz Cellar in San Francisco. The two sax giants recorded their first sides together as members of the illustrious Duke Ellington orchestra on August 19, 1935.
The Jazz Cellar, San Francisco, November 22 1960:
Ben Webster, tenor saxophone
Johnny Hodges, alto saxophone
Lou Levy, piano
Herb Ellis, guitar
Wilfred Middlebrooks, bass
Gus Johnson, drums
Rare Octet Session, August 27, 1964
Ray Nance, trumpet
Lawrence Brown, trombone
Emil Richards, vibraphone
Russ Freeman, piano
Joe Mondragon, bass
Mel Lewis, drums
This album offers two jazz masters – masters of the saxophone – for the price of one. Ellingtonians both, John Cornelius Hodges and Benjamin Francis Webster were superbly lyrical and magnificently authoritative saxophonists whose extemporised compositions had a serenity and authority that are only to be found among the true elite of jazz musicians. Possessor of the most beautiful tone ever heard in jazz, altoist Johnny Hodges formed his style early on and had little reason to change it through the decades. Hodges’ luscious playing on ballads has never been topped.
Hodges (1907 – 1970) was best known for his solo work with Duke Ellington’s Orchestra where he played lead alto in the saxophone section for many years and his playing became one of the identifying voices of the Ellington orchestra. He is considered one of the defin- itive alto saxophone players of the big band era (alongside Benny Carter). His unchanging style always managed to sound fresh.