Johnny Hodges Appreciation Society

Dedicated to the man and his music

Three Great Altos, Together

This photo was taken by Esther Bubley at the July, 1952 jam session in Hollywood, California produced by Norman Grand. From left, Benny Carter, alto; Barney Kessel, guitar; Flip Phillips, tenor; Charlie Shavers, trumpet; Ray Brown, bass; Charlie Parker, alto; J.C. Heard, drums; Oscar Peterson, piano; Ben Webster, tenor; and Johnny. It is the only occasion on which the three greatest altos of 20th century jazz—Carter, Parker and Hodges—played together.

What We’re Doing

We will use this website to share information about Johnny, his music, and his role within and outside the Duke Ellington Orchestra in the hope that appreciation for his art will grow, and we can develop a fitting tribute to him in the Cambridge-Boston area, where he was born and grew up, and to expand his influence by sponsoring education in the Hodges/Ellington tradition, and providing support for musicians who choose to work in that vein.

Other Resources

A group dedicated to honoring Johnny in Cambridge, Mass., has a Facebook page, and there are several other Facebook pages dedicated to him, including Johnny Hodges Fanclub, and Johnny Hodges Music. See also Duke Ellington Society and Duke Ellington page, which often contain tidbits about Hodges.

Johnny’s Monkey

Johnny was known to be gruff, but he had a soft spot in his heart for one traveling companion: His monkey. No pictures of the animal survive, and there are only a few references to it in his music: “Monkey on a Limb” and “Monkey Shack.” The latter is a soul-flavored number on the 1963 “Sandy’s Gone” album produced by Creed Taylor, which could easily be mistaken for the music played on a 60s game show while a contestant considered a question, and Hodges’ sax never emerges from the ensemble. The former is a more traditional Hodges vehicle and can be heard on Johnny’s “Triple Play” CD.

A few anecdotes about the monkey survive: When a 1961 recording session for “Paris Blues” was running late, he asked jazz writer Stanley Dance to “go out for him before the shops shut” to buy grapes for the monkey’s dinner.

Another is told by a friend of mine, who heard Hodges play with the Ellington orchestra at our high school in Sedalia, Missouri, in May of 1966. When my friend and his father approached a musician putting away his saxophone from behind and asked tentatively “Mr. Hodges?” the man turned around and said “No, I’m Russell Procope. Jeep’s already back in the bus with his damn monkey.”

Who We Are

The Johnny Hodges Appreciation Society is a Massachusetts charitable corporation qualified for exemption under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions are deductible from income on your U.S. federal tax return and may also be deductible on your state tax return. Donations of $100 can choose between a copy of my bio of Johnny, "Rabbit's Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges" (Oxford University Press, 2019), or a t-shirt in a variety of styles. Our PayPal address is

Contact information:
Johnny Hodges Appreciation Society, Inc.
14 Davis Brook Drive, #14
Natick MA 01760

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