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Identifier: IJS-0058

Art Hodes papers and audiovisual materials



  • 1918 - 1992

Scope and Contents

The Art Hodes papers and audiovisual materials 1918-1992 consist of approximately 20 linear feet of personal papers created and collected by Hodes, housed in forty-five boxes. It spans the period 1918-1992 but the bulk of the materials fall within the years 1943-1990. Included are letters written to Hodes, manuscript (mss.) notes, manuscripts for published and unpublished essays and articles, interview transcripts, photographs, ephemera, clippings, audio and video tapes, music (manuscript and printed), and original artwork.


20 Linear Feet (45 boxes)

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use. Some of the audiovisual media in the collection is open for visual inspection only. Access copies for listening and/or viewing may be created on request, if possible. Contact the Institute for details or to make a request.

Language of Materials



Art Hodes was a jazz and blues pianist, active from the 1920s until he suffered a stroke in 1991. He was also a writer, founding Jazz Record in 1943 and contributing to publications such as Downbeat, Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Jazz Junction throughout the 1950s-1970s. This collection documents his career and comprises letters, manuscripts, notes, scrapbooks, interview transcripts, photographs, original artwork, audiovisual materials, clippings and ephemera.

Biographical / Historical

November 14, 1904 - Art Hodes was born in Nikolayev, Russia (nee Abraham William Hodes)

circa 1905 - Hodes Family moves to New York City (USA). They live there until Art is six years old. 1910 - Hodes Family moves to Chicago and settles in the 12th Ward. Family includes his parents, William and Dorothy, and his two sisters Sema and Zena.

1918 - Hodes finishes Grammar School. Then later graduating Medill High School.

1916-1920 - Enrolled in music classes at Hull House (Jane Addams) taking piano and voice from the Smith Sisters.

circa 1920-1922 - Out of high school Hodes begins playing Italian weddings and at dime-a-dance halls.

circa 1920-1927 - First regular gig at the Rainbow Gardens as staff pianist working for Dago Lawrence Mangano. Thus began his acquaintance with gangsters. Quit after a year and a half.

1925 - Hodes lands job with the Wolverines (post-Bix) lead by Dick Voynow. Toured the East (Boston, Erie, Ohio).

1926-1927 - Spent summer at Delevan Gardens in Delvan Lake, Wisconsin (resort) where he met Earl Murphy who introduced him to jazz (Armstrong, Dodds, Ory, Bix). Left Delevan Lake in 1927 to return to Chicago.

1927-1929 - Lived with Wingy Manone. Met Louis Armstrong, Zutty Singleton, Ray Biondi and what was to be "the gang": Gene Krupa, Bud Freeman, Tesch, etc.

December 1928 - Art and Wingy recorded "Tryin' to Stop My Cryin'" and "Isn't There a Little Love."

1929 - Louis Armstrong takes Hodes and Manone to barbeque place on State Street near 48th where, Hodes said, his "real jazz" education began. Hanging out at the bbq he met drummer Papa Couch and pianist named "Jackson" who was to become a major influence. By the late twenties, many jazz musicians had moved to New York City but Art remained in Chicago because blues was still being played.

circa 1931 - Relationship with "Renee Burnett" begins.

1935 - Hodes in the Floyd Towne band at Harry's New York Bar. Also around this period played the Liberty Inn.

1938 - Early in 1938 Art Hodes marries his first wife, Thelma (Johnson). According to Hodes, by 1938 Chicago had become "a ghost town." Art and Thelma move to New York City. For the first six months in Manhattan, Hodes observed union rules and obeyed the obligatory probationary period for travelling musicians. Shortly after moving to New York, Thelma had their first child, Janet, and subsequently moved back to Chicago because of the financial hardships the young couple had been facing. Hodes moved in with Dick Donahue and the two of them played in a trio with Joe Grauso on drums. Hodes travelled with Bunny Berigan, he sat in with Spirits of Rhythm at Nicks and and began practicing in Ross' Tavern's basement.

1939 - Hodes gets first "real" job in NYC at the Pirate's Den on West 4th St. where Stella Brooks sang. He later played with Joe Marsala to the Fiesta Ballroom uptown (Danceteria).

circa 1940 - During this period Hodes, George Brunis, Rod Cless, Duke duVall and Joe Grauso was the house band (Child's Columbia Quintet) at Child's Restaurant (103rd St). After being ousted from the upscale Child's, Art ended up at the Pepper Pot in the Village. At Ross' Tavern in the Village jam sessions developed including appearances from Meade Lux Lewis, George Zack, and Stella Brooks. Recorded five tracks for the Solo Art label and then ten more sides in 1940. Also, Hodes recorded "Organ Grinders Blues" first for Bob Theile's Signature label and later for Milt Gabler's Commodore.

Spring 1940 - Trio with Mezz Mezzrow and Danny Alvin at Ryan's. (See also, 1944)

1943 - Art Hodes hosts show on public station WNYC called "Metropolitan Review" which specialized in small group jazz. Many musicians sat in on the program including: Eddie Condon, Max Kaminsky, Pee Wee Russell , Brad Gowans, George Wettling, Miff Mole, Tony Parenti, Mezzrow, Red Allen, James P. Johnson, Cow Cow Davenport and Leadbelly as well as collector Herb Abramson.

1943 - The Jazz Record magazine was also launched February 1943 (ended November 1947) by Hodes and Dale Curran (printer and writer). The sixty issues are an important body of oral history and focused on musicians rather than criticism.

January - March 1944 Series of attacks on Hodes by Leonard Feather and Barry Ulanov in their Metronome column "Two Deuces." This episode did not create the "jazz wars" but was part of the criticism of the time when the meanings of jazz and its tradition were debated.

circa 1944 - Hodes played many dates and many clubs including his own jam sessions at La Casita: Nicks; Jimmy Ryan's, etc. Hodes and Rudi Blesh produce "Jazz on the Hudson." Throughout the 1940s recorded for Decca, Black and White, Session, Jazzology, World Transcription and most notably Blue Note. 1st Blue Note March 1944

Fall 1944 - Second trio work with Mezzrow and Alvin at Jimmy Ryan's

1946 - Johnson band at Styvessant Casino.

1947 - November, last issue of The Jazz Record.

1948 - Trio at Jimmy Ryan's with Art, Baby Dodds, Cecil Scott, and Chippie Hill.

1948 (1947) - Hodes rejects alcohol and joins Alcoholics Anonymous.

circa 1940s - Hodes played the Village Vanguard with Zutty Singleton and Max Gordon and with Wild Bill Davison and Freddie Moore opening for Big Bill Broonzy; Hodes played at Nick's.

1949 - "Pee Wee and Art's Back Room" at the Riviera across the street from Nicks. With the help of Eddie Condon, who had his own television show, they managed to get air time for the show. Those who performed at Pee Wee and Art's Back Room were Hot Lips Page, Red Allen, Tony Parenti, Barney Bigard, and Chippie Hill among others.

1950 - Hodes moves back to Chicago in January. Blue Note engagement. Thelma stayed behind in Long Island waiting for Art's decision if and where to stay. Pee Wee Russell, Freddie Moore, and Chippie Hill go to Chi with Art later to be joined by Lee Collins (trumpet) and Floyd O'Brien (trombone), then Zutty Singleton and George Brunis. The Blue Note "dream" group didn't work out. (Later Chippie died in an auto accident and Pee Wee was hospitalized.) After the Blue Note, Hodes had a two week solo engagement at the Dome.

May 1 1950 - Art's family moves to Park Forest, IL, a Chicago suburb.

June 1950 - July 1951 Rupneck's with Jimmy Granato, Floyd O'Brien, Wild Bill Davison, Bill Moore and Bill Pfeiffer. The nucleus of the band, Hodes and Granato, would play together until 1955.

1953 - Hodes house pianist at Jazz Ltd.

July-Nov. 1955 - Brass Rail.

Feb.-Sept. 1956 - Backed Connee Boswell at Blue Note

1957 - Turf Club in Indianapolis; returns to Jazz Ltd.; begins teaching piano at Park Forest Conservatory.

1958 - Becomes full-time staff at Conservatory.

1959 - With Bob Scobey (West Coast Jazz Band) playing New Orleans Revival Style.

1960s - Wrote column "Sittin' In" for downbeat; wrote for other journals including Jazz Report, Esquire, Chicago Tribune, New York Times.

1963-1964 - Played for high school students through the Wisconsin Bureau of Lectures Program.

1965-1966 - "Plain Ol' Blues," a half-our show on WTTW (Chicago's public TV), won an Emmy .

1969-1971 - Various television shows for public television including "Jazz Alley".

1970 - Hodes' first trip abroad; travels to Denmark and Norway with wife Thelma and plays with Papa Bue's Viking Jazz band and makes television appearances. Performs religious original composition "Love Everybody" at Park Forest United Protestant Church.

1971 - Stars of Jazz/Great Stars of Jazz

circa 1970s-1978 - Columbia Artists Tours: first 17 week tour with Condon, Bigard, Davison, Jim Beebe, Hillard Brown; the next season with James McPartland, Franz Jackson, and Volley De Faut.

1976 - A Night in New Orleans.

1980 - Thelma, Art's first wife, dies of cancer.

1981 - February, solo at Hanratty's; Whitney Balliet features Hodes in full length New Yorker article. 1983 - Art marries his second wife, Jan, a classical pianist; Mayfair Regent shows.

1980s-1991 - Hodes plays and tours actively.

1985 - Hodes International Trio.

1993 - Art Hodes died on March 4, 1993 at Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey Illinois at the age of 88.


The Art Hodes papers and audiovisual materials is divided into the following series:

Series 1. Letters (1931-1991)

Subseries 1A. Individuals

Subseries 1B. Musicians

Subseries 1C. General

Series 2. Family and personal, (1941-1966)

Series 3. Correspondence, financial records, and bookings (1930-1991)

Subseries 3A. Subject File

Subseries 3B. Special Tours and Projects

Subseries 3C. Recording

Subseries 3D. Gigs and Business

Subseries 3E. Bookings and Contracts

Series 4. Financial (1930s-1991)

Series 5. Interviews (1950s-1968)

Series 6. WYNC (1942-1943)

Series 7. Jazz Record (1943-1946)

Series 8. Writings

Subseries 8A. Notes and Manuscripts

Subseries 8B. Typed Essays

Series 9. Notes and Fragments (1930s-1981)

Series 10. Diaries and Calendars (1926, 1941-1991)

Subseries 10A. Diaries and journals

Subseries 10B. Daily Calendars and Appointment Books

Series 11. Manuscript Music

Subseries 11A. Fragments/Originals

Subseries 11B. Song/Set Lists

Series 12. Ephemera (1930s-1980s)

Series 13. Photographs (circa 1927-1980s)

Subseries 13A. Art Hodes

Subseries 13B. Other musicians

Subseries 13C. Groups and events

Series 14. Audio and moving images

Subseries 14A. Audio

Subseries 14B. Moving images

Series 15. Oversized art, photographs, and ephemera

Subseries 15. Art

Subseries 15. Photographs

Subseries 15. Ephemera and calendars

Series 16. Music library circa 1940s - 1960s

Series 17. Plaques, circa 1960s-1980s

Series 18. Scrapbooks, circa 1939-2990

Series 19. Articles, clippings, and journals circa 1940s-1990s

Art Hodes papers and audiovisual materials
Erika Gorder
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Part of the Institute of Jazz Studies Repository

185 University Avenue
John Cotton Dana Library
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Newark New Jersey 07102 United States