Johnny Hodges. Alto and soprano saxes, composer. b: Cambridge Massachusetts, 25 July 1907; d: New York, 11 May 1970.
OK: some of us will never agree about Trane (see below). But even Trane recognised that Rabbit was the greatest saxophonist of all time.
A reporter once asked Rabbit, sitting in the corner of the Ellington bandroom, gazing into a glass of gin, more than a little tired after two long sets and a bus journey of hundreds of miles:”Mr Hodges, why do you never play a wrong note?” Rabbit’s sphinx-like face contracted a little; he put down the gin and pondered the question solemnly, swinging gently his saxophone lanyard from side to side. Finally he looked up and said simply: “But why should I?” (adapted from Vic Bellerby’s notes to “Johnny Hodges: Jeep’s Blues” , ASV CD AJA 5180).
He had a truly beautiful sound, often described as “sensual” (or “sensuous”) : what’s not to like?