The Hodges/Wild Bill Davis sessions were largely dismissed as 'pop jazz' when they were first released. The complete set has now been reissued by Lone Hill and is a splendid collection of almost forgotten music. This, the third volume in the series, contains the complete Verve album 'Mess of Blues' with Joe Wilder on trumpet joining Hodges in the front line and with Kenny Burrell on guitar adding a distinctive voice to the excellent rhythm section. As before, the tunes are a mixture of originals, standards, and numbers from the Duke Ellington band book. Hodges is in top form throughout with his solos on I Cried for You and Lost in Meditation being outstanding.
The album continues three tracks from 'Blue Rabbit' - where Davis is replaced on organ by Ray Jackson. They are all most enjoyable. Then comes a surprise with the inclusion of the complete 'Stride Right' which is a quite superb partnership between Hodges and Earl Hines. Caution Blues (Blues in Thirds) is a fine performance - easily as good as the original on Victor where, of course, Hines was partnered by Sidney Bechet. Hodges shows just how much he owed to the great New Orleans master of the soprano sax but the performance is in no way derivative and Hines his usual superlative self. The other tracks are just as good.
The sound quality is excellent and the album as a whole can be strongly recommended to all mainstream jazz lovers.