© Joe DiMaggio (all rights reserved) Jazz Musician, Songwriter, Singer Hugh Brodie in his home
I once walked into a cocktail party of maybe 300 or so people and there was only one person I saw. He was a gorgeous gentleman with shock of bright white hair. I worked my way through the party left, right, left, right, and went up to him and said, “Excuse me my name is Joe DiMaggio. I think you’re absolutely gorgeous. I’m a photographer and I would love to do a portrait of you.” I had no idea who I was talking to at the time and that this man was a great musician, songwriter and singer. I was astounded by his absolute persona & charisma.
The man I’m talking about was Hugh Brodie and that was the beginning of three decades of friendship with Hugh. Through him, I learned a lot about music, art history & communication. We always had extraordinary deep conversations. There’s no doubt in my mind that Brodie was an absolute visionary. He let little get in his way and for man who did not catch many breaks in his life, he kept a great attitude. Brodie always called me brother, I called him brother and JoAnne was referred to as sister. JoAnne has a fond memory of Brodie leaving one evening from a party we had. She remembers Brodie went out of his way to walk into the kitchen to say goodnight little brother to our son Dylan. That was Brodie for you!
I photographed Brodie over the years and every time it was totally exciting. This was not because I’m such a great photographer but because his personality and soul always came through. I had the pleasure of spending that precious hour with him, on the last day of his life before he packed his bags and went onto the the next level of consciousness. I think back on our conversation about the sound & vibration of music, going onto infinity in the Universe and that every note and lyric lives on. This is how the whole world will remember Hugh.
Your spirit will always be with us. Love you brother Brodie!
Hugh’s recent birthday celebration https://vimeo.com/204043097
© Joe DiMaggio (all rights reserved)
About Hugh Brodie – Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and Illinois Jacquet were just a few of the musicians that were in Hugh’s dreams as a boy. Little did he know that he would be playing with Jacquet in the 1980’s. Yet, even before he could afford his 3 dollar lessons, Hugh Brodie would fantasize about becoming one of the great jazz musicians.
Hugh’s first exposure to the blues came when he was very young in the fields of North Carolina. He worked on his cousin’s farm and listed to the workers as they sang the blues in the blazing sun tending to the watermelon and sugar cane.
Later, in his early teens, Hugh was amazed by the way the members of the Sanctified Church in Newark N.J. used music in their worship. Hugh was astonished when he witnessed fellow worshipers being overcome by “the great creator” from their toes to their head. These experiences planted the seeds for Brodie’s future music. They created the life experiences and burning hunger that Hugh needed to create music about the spiritual world. Hugh wanted to play music so badly that he begged his father to buy him a sax. Tenor Sax
Times Herald Record – Hugh was a storied jazz veteran. When asked to describe himself, he first says, “I am a creator,” then, “I am a searcher.” He played tenor and soprano saxophones, clarinet, flute, sang and scatted. He was cousin to the great Ella Fitzgerald. Hugh devoted his entire life to jazz, developing his own sound, creating his own music and executing his own unique musical visions. He was taught and encouraged by the greats before him and he, in turn, passed on his collected knowledge, to those who played on the bandstand with him or, who sought him out at his home in Monticello, NY. He has many recordings to his credit, played with the famous Illinois Jacquet big band, traveled the world, produced his own music and appeared in movies and modeled throughout his life.
In 2013, Hugh was awarded a “Certificate of Appreciation,” by the Jazz Foundation of America. It said in part, “Your artistry and recordings have reached to the spiritual and emotional core of the true jazz experience.”
Hugh had a strong, infectious spirit. His influence and music will live on and on.
A celebration of his life and music will take place at The Falcon, RT 9W, Marlboro, NY on a future date.