Johnny Hodges

image for Johnny Hodges
Exhibition Label
“Pure artistry” is how Duke Ellington described the expressive quality and “unique tonal personality” that characterized Johnny Hodges’s playing. A largely self-taught musician who took up the soprano and alto saxophones in his early teens, Hodges became a protégé of jazz saxophonist Sidney Bechet. After accepting Ellington’s invitation to join his orchestra in 1928, Hodges quickly distinguished himself as a soloist. With a style deeply rooted in the blues, he produced a meltingly smooth and sensuous tone that Ellington likened to “poured honey.” Among the many works in Ellington’s repertoire to showcase Hodges’s talent were “Jeep’s Blues” (1938) and “I’m Beginning to See the Light” (1944)—co-written by Ellington and Hodges—and the hauntingly beautiful “Isfahan” from the Far East Suite (1966). With the exception of a brief hiatus to lead his own small ensembles (1951–55), Hodges remained with Ellington’s orchestra for the rest of his life.
“Puro arte”. Así describió Duke Ellington la calidad expresiva y la “personalidad tonal única” que caracterizaban el estilo de Johnny Hodges. Músico más que nada autodidacto, Hodges optó por los saxofones soprano y alto en su temprana adolescencia, pasando a ser el protegido del saxofonista Sidney Bechet. Luego de aceptar la invitación de Ellington para unirse a su orquesta en 1928, Hodges se destacó muy pronto como solista. Con un estilo bien enraizado en el blues, producía un tono sensual y fluido que embelesaba al público y que Ellington comparaba a un “hilo de miel”. Entre las muchas obras del repertorio de Ellington donde brilla el talento de Hodges se destacan “Jeep’s Blues” (1938) y “I’m Beginning to See the Light” (1944) —ambas coescritas por Ellington y Hodges— y la inolvidablemente bella “Isfahan”, de Far East Suite (1966). A excepción de un breve hiato dedicado a dirigir sus propios conjuntos de pequeño formato (1951–55), Hodges permaneció en la orquesta de Ellington el resto de su vida.
Artist
Herman Leonard, 1923 - 2010
Sitter
Johnny Hodges, 25 Jul 1906 - 11 May 1970
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
© Herman Leonard Photography LLC
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
1958 (printed 1998)
Object number
NPG.2014.111.14
Topic
Equipment\Smoking Implements\Cigarette
Home Furnishings\Lighting Devices\Lamp
Home Furnishings\Mirror
Costume\Headgear\Hat\Cap\Beret
Music\Musical instrument\Saxophone
Interior\Performing Arts
Johnny Hodges: Male
Johnny Hodges: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Jazz
Portrait
Place
France\Île-de-France\Ville de Paris, Départment de\Paris
Medium
Selenium-toned gelatin silver print
Dimensions
Image: 39.6 × 30.1cm (15 9/16 × 11 7/8")
Sheet: 50.5 × 40.5cm (19 7/8 × 15 15/16")
Frame: 71.8 × 56.5 × 3.8 cm (28 1/4 × 22 1/4 × 1 1/2")
National Portrait Gallery
Type
Photograph