Two Verve albums from Johnny Hodges
– both relatively obscure, and both pretty darn great! The Eleventh Hour is an overlooked gem from Johnny Hodges
– a 60s session that hearkens back to the "with strings" Verve mode of the 50s – but one that also updates the approach strongly, thanks to some well crafted arrangements by Oliver Nelson! Nelson's work in the jazz backings for soloist mode during the 60s was some of the best of the big band genre – and although his work here is much more in the mellow tone mode than his backings for players like Jimmy Smith and Lou Donaldson, Hodges
is still getting top shelf treatment, some really wonderful washes of sound and color that show that his tone is still very much alive! A nice preface to the pair's classic set for Flying Dutchman – and with tracks that include "Something to Live For", "Don't Blame Me", "Warm Valley", "The Eleventh Hour", "Guitar Amour", and "You Blew Out The Flame In My Heart". Sandy's Gone is a set that has the sweet alto sax of Johnny Hodges
working with great arrangements from Claus Ogerman – a mode that's a bit more groovy and 60s than some of Johnny
's previous work – in a setting that offers up a nice change for his sound! Claus is in fine form here – swinging with the same style as his own instrumental records for RCA in the 60s – echoes of his German roots, especially in the use of bass at the bottom – which gives even some of the gentler tunes a nice kick we're not used to hearing in Johnny Hodges
's got a sound that's soulful, yet sweet too – almost pop, but still very strongly rooted in jazz – on titles that include "Again", "Sandy's Gone", "Monkey Shack", "Scarlett O'Hara", "Candy's Theme", and "Follow Me".