“She just reaches out and grabs and holds me. … This gal sings from the heart. She never lets me get away from her once.” This is how Art Hodes describes, in Hot Man, his autobiography, his first time seeing Bessie Smith perform. With I Remember Bessie, a solo piano album recorded in 1976 and now reissued, we can borrow Hodes’ words to describe his own playing-i.e., how his stride, boogie-woogie, ragtime and blues style grabs you and doesn’t turn you loose. Hodes is primarily a percussive player, and with him there’s no such thing as a nebulous tempo.
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