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Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges – Side By Side


In Back to Back there is an extended chance to hear them in almost after-hours small combo context with much the same unhurried warmth as used to characterize the small units from the Ellington orchestra that recorded in the thirties and forties on Vocalion and Bluebird.  Ellington, it has been said to the point of cliche, uses his orchestra as his instrument; but he also plays the piano, and he plays it extraordinarily well, both as a soloist and as a superbly helpful accompanist who keeps other soloists afloat without pushing them in any direction but the one in which they want to go.

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SKU: Verve MG VS-6109 [3] Categories: , , , Tags: , , ,


Topping off a wealth of full-band recordings, the various stars of Ellington’s great outfit recorded many combo sides under their own names. And while not on the same sophisticated level of classic Ellingtonia, the late-’30s material cut by Johnny Hodges, Cootie Williams, and Rex Stewart is packed with tasty solo work and some of the finest examples of early small-group swing. These later examples from 1958-1959 feature Hodges backed by both Ellington and Billy Strayhorn on piano and such non-Duke luminaries as Ben Webster, Roy Eldridge, Harry “Sweets” Edison, and Jo Jones. Like its companion album, Back to Back, Side by Side has a loose, jam session feel, with all the soloists stretching out. Hodges is in top form throughout, while Edison and Webster man their spots just fine. Highlights include the sveltely swinging “Going Up” and Hodges’ bluesy closer, “You Need to Rock.” A must for fans of vintage combo swing. (AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook).


1. Stompy Jones
2. Squeeze Me
3. Big Shoe
4. Going up
1. Just A Memory
2. Let’s Fall In Love
3. Ruint
4. Bend One
5. You Need to Rock


Additional information

Weight 0.550 kg
Dimensions 32.0 × 32.0 × 2.0 cm