Trumpet and cornet player, band leader, and composer Chris Hodgkins has recently released three albums the earliest of which dates from material recorded in 1976; the next following a 2019 UK tour with an international quartet; and the most recent being a studio version of the ‘Salute to Humphrey Lyttelton’ tour that ended late 2021.
Vic Parker At The Quebec Hotel + Chris Hodgkins + Jed Williams: Chris hails from Cardiff and it was there, in Cardiff’s Tiger Bay, he worked with the local legendary guitar player Vic Parker at the Quebec Hotel, Crichton Street, Cardiff. Two sessions with Vic Parker with Chris on cornet and Jed Williams on drums were recorded in January and February 1976. This is a real nostalgia album complete with an authentic “old” sound as a result of having been recorded live.
The guitarist Vic Parker is a Cardiff legend deserving of wider recognition. A poster-boy for Butetown history and a hero to those who still remember his name, he was a versatile musician who loved to play and knew every tune in the book. The reluctance of outsider arbiters to class him as a ‘jazz’ musician, and a self-effacing lifestyle, away from the Metropolitan swirl, have conspired to keep him hidden from history.Bandcamp album page
Tracklist: 1. (Back Home Again in) Indiana. 2. Cheek To Cheek. 3. Georgia On My Mind. 4. You Took Advantage Of Me. 5. Bill Coleman. 6. Deep Purple. 7. Solitude. 8. Undecided. 9. I’ve Found A New Baby. 10. Ida! Sweet As Apple Cider. 11. I’m Putting All My Eggs In One Basket. 12. C’est Si Bon. 13. At Sundown. 14. Blueberry Hill.
The album Festooned With Trumpets was recorded following a 2019 tour of the Chris Hodgkins International Quartet, featuring U.S guitarist, Wayne Wilkinson and South Korean pianist Jinjoo Yoo – now resident in New York and with the addition of Alison Rayner on bass. The music played is a mix of standards and originals based on musicians who had inspired the members of the band.
‘Festooned With Trumpets’ (arranged by saxophonist Diane McLoughlin) is a tune inspired by the late Humphrey Lyttleton that Chris composed for the tour. Some years ago, Chris received a phone call from Adrian Macintosh to say that Humphrey Lyttelton had left his trumpet on the hall table and asked if Chris could hurry to the Bulls Head with a couple of horns for Humph. He duly did and Humph played Chris’ spare Selmer 99. A week later, Chris was listening to the ‘Best of Jazz’ and Humph played a track from one of Chris’ CDs and recounted the story, saying that Chris had “turned up like the US Cavalry, festooned with trumpets”.Bandcamp album page
Musicians: Chris Hodgkins – trumpet; Alison Rayner – bass; Jinjoo Yoo – piano; Wayne Wilkinson – guitar.
Tracklist: 1. Festooned With Trumpets. 2. Body And Soul. 3. Almost Like Being In Love. 4. Two Hats And A Paper Bag. 5. Angel Eyes. 6. Martino’s Waltz. 7. I Guess I’ll Have To Change My Plans. 8. Everybody Knows. 9. I’ve Never Been In Love Before. 10. In The Wee Small Hours In The Morning. 11. Flying Home.
The final CD of this wonderful trio of release is A Salute To Humphrey Lyttelton that records the wonderful seventeen day tour of the same name, which I was privileged enough to see at Emsworth in West Sussex (click here for the review). The album comprises of many of Humph’s own tunes as well as one or two new written for the tour. The studio band line-up varies from that heard on tour, but the music sounds great either way. The revelation for me, when I heard this output live, was Jinjoo Yoo on piano and Wayne Wilkinson on guitar, neither of whom I had heard before but who’s playing really caught my attention.
Musicians: Chris Hodgkins – trumpet; Henry Lowther – trumpet; Charlotte Glasson – sax; Diane McLoughlin – sax; Mark Bassey – trombone; Alison Rayner – double bass; Buster Birch – drums; Alex Clarke – sax; Jinjoo Yoo – piano; Wayne Wilkinson – guitar.
Tracklist: 1. Cross a Busy Street. 2. Cecil Beaten Strikes Again. 3. Tribal Dance. 4. Fat Tuesday. 5. Susan. 6. Holy Main. 7. In Swinger. 8. Late Night Final. 9. Mezz’s Tune/Mezzrow. 10. We Fell Out Of Love. 11. One For Buck. 12. Wrestler’s Tricks. 13. Bad Penny Blues. 14. Kath Meets Humph. 15. Let’s Get Out.
All three albums are available from Bandcamp or from www.chrishodgkins.co.uk and all three have something offer to those of us who enjoy well-played mainstream jazz with a touch of nostalgia or homage thrown in.