Allan Hodgkiss

Allan Hodgkiss (Hodgkins) 1917~86

BMG Cover

Allan is also listed on recordings as  pseudonym Allan Hodgkiss, but his real name was ALLAN HODGKINS.  He was born in East Ham on 20th April 1917 and lived for most of his adult life in East Ham, London.   He grew up in a musical family and the mandolin was a popular instrument with the family. In addition to playing professionally Allan also taught the guitar, and among his pupils was Bert Weedon, who he taught Jazz guitar.

The Abbey Road Studio Recorded English/Caribbean/French Quartet of Django, Allan Hodgkiss (Hodgkins) Archtop,  West Indian Bassist Coleridge Goode, & Jack Llewellyn on Selmer Grande Bouche concealed by Stephane.

Coleridge on Echoes of France

Coleridge on Nuages

Allan held his sometime fellow Rhythm accompanist Jack Llewellyn in a very high regard. The personal highlight of his career was playing and recording with Django Reinhardt. When Django Reinhardt came to England after WW2 to record with Stepane Grappelli, the remaining members of his quintet could not obtain authorisation to cross the channel (Passports). So he had no choice but to use the guitarists and bassist who had usually accompanied Stephane Grappelli who remained in England throughout the War.  These included Allan Hodgkiss, the Jamaican bassist Coleridge Goode and Jack Llewellyn. On 31st January 1946 they recorded 4 tracks at Abbey Road studios,

January 31, 1946 Swing, London
Django Reinhardt and the Quintet of the Hot Club of ‘France’ with Stéphane Grappelli
Stéphane Grappelli (v); Django Reinhardt (g solo); Jack Llewellyn, Allan Hodgkiss (g); Coleridge Goode (b)
Coquette, Django’s Tiger, Embraceable You, Echoes Of France,

The Marseilles‘ was banned in France as disrespectful to the national anthem and hence renamed ‘Echoes of France

Allan played with many of the well known bands in the 40`s & 50`s, including those of Henry Hall, Carlo Krahmer and Nat Temple.  Unfortunately his professional career was curtailed when he was diagnosed with epilepsy. However he continued to play for pleasure often with other members of his family. He was a wonderful improviser and played solos with the same power and attack as Django.

Allan Hodgkins died in 1986 but his enthusiasm inspired many people, including his grandson, Lee Ellefson, (son of Art Ellefson Tenor Saxist) who is a guitar instructor and notable Jazz guitarist in Canada, and his nephew Bern Hodgkins is a British Jazz bassist.

Django had a big influence on the family because Allan had a nephew called Django.

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Allan Hodgkiss – in conversation with Ike Isaacs

I was having a conversation with guitarist Allan Hodgkiss, who will be remembered by many, I am sure, as an excellent guitarist who played with Stephane Grappelli in the mid-40s and also knew Reinhardt personally. Allan is now not only a teacher of guitar, but also an authority on modern art, and he stresses the importance of form, whether musically or in art and asserts that any great performance is so complete in its form that any addition would certainly be superfluous; and taking anything out would give a sense of imbalance. He also spoke of the necessity of self expression in the arts; the completeness of an artistic person’s development has to embrace many of its aspects and therefore the inter-relation of the art forms should be experienced and understood by the musician if he wants to mature. Allan holds art classes in which he encourages well known musicians to express themselves through painting, and it is becoming apparent that this other stimulant is having advantageous results on their musical performance, too!

BLUES IN THIRDS
Carlo Krahmer’s Chicagoans: Jimmy McPartland, cnt; Cy Ellis, tp; Harry Brown, tb; Pip Gaskell, cl; Ernie Mansfield, ts; Marion McPartland, p Allan Hodgkiss, g; Eddie King, b; Carlo Krahmer, d.
London, May 30, 1949

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Allan with his Family

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a later Amplified Jam with Bernie the Bass – see below

Allan’s Nephew Bernie Hodgkins – Jazz bassist.

BernieHodgkinsConsummate bass player and backbone of the Francesca Mann band, Bernie Hodgkins is a master of his craft.  Inspired by an uncle, who played and recorded with Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, Bernie Hodgkins grew up in a Jazz-oriented family. Their influence led him to become a respected bass player behind such people as Matt Munro, Dickie Valentine and Dennis Lotus, in the early stages of his career. Touring in Europe and further afield with a wide variety of artists honed his skills and added to his prodigious repertoire and reinforced his enduring love affair with jazz. Bern is particularly acknowledged as being one of the few players to bring an authentic, driving jazz feel to the bass-guitar, and for his fluent and creative soloing. He’s equally at home playing electric or double bass in all styles from jazz, rock to funk and Latin.

“My father (Jack Hodgkins) was an older brother to Allan and was a regular in the Royal Navy (playing Alto sax in Navy bands) when Allan first picked up an instrument to learn. there was a musical bond between them that was more than the usual sibling/family relationship.  Jack, my father, was immensely proud of Allan and visited him far more often than all the other family members put together.  From the age of 7 or 8 onwards, I would be included in these visits to East Ham.  My memories are of a smoke-filled front room of a 1st floor flat in  with my father and uncle endlessly playing snatches of records and reminiscing over Django and many other legendary names before sleep would overcome me, eventually I would be carried down to the car half awake and driven home with half a crown in my pocket in the wee small hours of the morning.  Probably not a very caring way to treat a youngster nowadays but for the period of these visits while I was still awake, it was an incredibly stimulating environment for a boy listening to music with grown-ups who were both equally passionate about it.

Unhappily my father had lost his right hand at the wrist whilst serving on Destroyer Escorts to the Russian Convoys, so his playing days were over, and no doubt he wasn’t in quite the same league as Allan, but with that level of enthusiasm surrounding one, it is hardly surprising that I “followed the path” and have done so ever since.  As may be  imagined, to play and jam alongside my Uncle in later  life is one of my most treasured memories.”  Bern Hodgkins

Lee and Art Ellefson

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Lee Ellefson – Guitar Tutor (he and his father Art – form Jazz Modus)
Lee began playing guitar at age 19, initially studying with his grandfather, Allan Hodgkins who (performed and recorded with Django Reinhardt in the early 40’s), and in 1984 enrolled in the Malaspina Jazz Program.  Focusing on writing, performing, recording and promoting original compositions, Lee begins a long term collaboration with his father, saxophonist Art Ellefson. Together, Lee and Art (Jazz Modus) recorded 6 CD.’s of original music and toured through-out Canada and the U.K in group formats ranging from duo to sextet.  “Father and son teams tend to produce jazz that is both meaty and stable. A program of inventive originals shows Jazz Modus should come out of the backwoods and into the limelight.”

Vancouver Island University

“Now based on Vancouver Island, Art Ellefson and son Lee Ellefson continue to release thoughtful, lovely chamber jazz music. With Chris Nelson on bass, Interwoven is a beautiful collaboration that showcases some truly original tunes and the trio’s exquisite, intuitive playing. “  Career highlights include performances with Kenny Wheeler, Ian McDougall, Phil Nimmons, Rick Kilburn, Rene Worst, Claude Ranger, John Capon and Nick McGowan.

Lee currently resides on Gabriola Island and serves as one of VIU’s most skilled, and most beloved, music instructors

Allan Hodgkiss was a performance name. (as you know) his last name was Hodgkins. I am the son of Art Ellefson and grandson of Allan Hodgkins. Allan’s daughter is alive and well in Canada and one of his twin boys is alive and residing in Western Australia. I am now a jazz performer and instructor at Vancouver University.  I have only one guitar which was bought new in 1958 by my tutor and grandfather Allan Hodgkins and past on to me after his death.  – Lee Ellefson

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Art (Arthur Albert) Ellefson.
Saxophonist, b Moose Jaw, Saskachewan, 17 Apr 1932. A trumpet and euphonium player as a boy, he took up the tenor saxophone at 16 and began his career in Toronto with Bobby Gimby and others before moving to London in 1952.

He played saxophones (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone) and clarinets in British dance bands, including the Vic Lewis Orchestra 1953-7, and was a soloist with the Ronnie Ross-Allan Ganley Jazzmakers (with whom he toured North America in 1959) and 1960-5 with the John Dankworth Orchestra.

He was also a member of touring bands led in England by Woody Herman and Maynard Ferguson.

Art Ellefson has two CD’s out, As If To Say on Sackville records, and Time To Wait featuring Kenny Wheeler and Ian McDougall on his own Jazz Modus label. Art was a feature player at Ronnie Scott’s in London back in the 60’s.

Hi,  I was delighted to see the web-page about my 2nd cousin Allan. I`ve looked on the web periodically to see if he ever got a mention, there wasn`t much. I think it was a web-site called Gipsy Jazz, and it was myself who corrected the spelling of his name. He was a great influence, I was  only 7 or 8  in my musical education in those early post-war years and he introduced me (musically) to  Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and subsequently to Delius, Ravel and Debussy. I saw him quite often, myself and my uncle Leslie Hodgkins (a cousin and lifelong friend of Allan`s) would go round to 204a Burgess Road on Sunday morning. Les, or Diz, as he was called would play rhythm while Allan would solo, while I sat there agape. They would play mostly French numbers, I remember particularly “Nuage” and “Collette“. Allan was a rare character and I`ve always felt very lucky to have known him,  Alan often spoke of Alan Clare and Arthur Young, pianists who he held in very high regard.  Best Regards…………John Smith.

On one occasion he brought George Shearing to our house in Matlock, this was during the war. They were on tour doing war-time entertainment.  When they had a day off the other lads in the band would take in turns to look after George.  They had lunch with us and George sat at our old upright piano in the front-room and played for us. I was only 7 or 8 yrs old at the time but still remember it very distinctly, he wore a blue pin-stripe suit.

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