My great friend actor Roy Scheider, when I told him that my favorite film was ALL THAT JAZZ. He smiled and said, “You know why I was so good in that? Because I was intense, dedicated, loved women, loved partying and attacked life head on and you know why you liked it? Because you’re the same as me.” Wow, what a compliment. Stuff like that is a lot more valuable than money. He was truly a great actor and great guy. One time JoAnne took me to the Blue Note and we saw Alberta Hunter. Alberta Hunter was one of the greatest American Jazz singers of all time. That probably started my love affair with Jazz and the Blues. Then I ran into Hugh Brodie who turned me onto Kitt Potter and Lilly Howard. Lilly was playing in NY the other night and JoAnne and I went to see her. She was playing with Guitarist Mike Jackson, Saxophonist Harvey Kaiser, Drummer Bobby Sanabria, and Bassist Rich Syracuse three great sets. Wow the end to a perfect week. She was kind enough to introduce me to her son who appeared to be a very cool dude. Like all great singers she sings from the heart and gut. She’ll certainly bring a smile or a tear to your eye. She has that kind of power. As a photographer you get to meet a lot of great people which is very cool… An adventure every day, and a holiday every week. It doesn’t get better than that. By the way here is some information on my recent book FILL THE FRAME.
Jazz and Blues – you can’t tell the difference after dark
Front Cover FILL THE FRAME
“Recalling His Adventures as a Working Photographer from the 60’s to present day. The book describes his career working for publications such as SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, TIME MAGAZINE, HBO, rapidly followed by a brilliant career in Corporate and Advertising. It’s also about how photography has evolved over the years.”
FILL THE FRAME goes into detail about the many people he has photographed – celebrities, sports figures as well as so many others and his experiences working with them, and the stories behind the photographs.
First of many Amazon Reviews – “Where have you been Joe DiMaggio…An amazing recounting of this photographers life. Each story is a touchstone to a period that resonates in our collective recollection of America. It’s at once funny, sad, and charming, I simply couldn’t put it down. A great read…” S. Simon Jacob
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!
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.
I’m the luckiest guy in the world. I have great friends all over the world from all walks of life! One of my older friends is Hugh Brodie who is a great musician, singer, writer, and plays one helluva Sax. The hell with rock and roll. The women all love him!
Brodie was dealt a bad hand. His last visit to the hospital the Dr. gave him less than 6 months. That was 18 months ago. The last time we visited Brodie he didn’t look good. Much to my surprise, for his Birthday celebration he not only looked great but sounded great. It may not have been Carnegie Hall but it was fabulous to have been there.
Approximately 25 years ago, I walked into a cocktail party with 300+ people. On the other side of the room as far as I could see was a tall, thin, gorgeous gentleman with bright white hair. He stood about 6 or 7 inches above everybody else. I worked my way through the crowd and walked up to a total stranger by the name of Hugh Brodie, the ultimate jazzman. His cousin was Ella Fitzgerald. It’s one of the very few times I started a conversation by saying, “You’re absolutely one of the most amazing people I have ever seen, would love to have you come into my studio and have you do an environmental portrait.” That was the start of a quarter of a century friendship which is as strong today as it was then. He’s my brother and I love him. Tomorrow, 20 or 30 musicians are going to get together and play for his birthday at The Roscoe Nursing Home/Rehab in Roscoe, New York.
There are many people out there that have been to our photographic retreat and jazz workshops, and you all know the words and music of world class jazzman Hugh Brodie. Brodie’s cousin was Ella Fitzgerald – I guess the apple does not fall far from the tree. Now I’m going to tell you a secret, and you’ve gotta promise me you’re not going to tell a lot of people, but I’ve been to three of Brodie’s eightieth birthday parties. My guess is that Brodie is 90-something. God and nature haven’t been really good to Brodie. He recently had a couple of falls, had some serious back problems, and had heart surgery. Thank God he didn’t get acne! With all that, he’s still one hell of a beautiful human being. To celebrate his recent birthday, some of the greatest jazzmen on the East coast came together to play for Brodie. What they actually did, in my humble opinion, was make him one of the happiest people on the planet. He laughed, he cried, he smiled. He was truly ecstatic. For one moment, I was thoroughly convinced he was going to jump up onto the band stand and start belting out some really great music. It was close but it didn’t happen; there’s no doubt that he was singing and playing inside that beautiful heart and soul. Time for me to put down the No. 2 pencil and let the photos speak for themselves. Harvey, thanks an awful lot
I was invited to sit in on a Bobby Kyle studio session. He has an unbelievable new album coming out. I don’t consider myself an expert on music but I’ve been photographing it for quite a while (oops oh yes and listening to it). Bobby has a very distinctive sound. He has reached deep into his heart and soul for this album and it is a major change from everything he has done before. To be quite honest, observing the creative process with another artist is thrilling as well as inspiring. I really had a great time and I learned a whole different aspect of music. It ain’t karaoke. His musical producer, Alan Jax Bowers, is an absolute genius. In the next few days I’ll shoot out some short film footage and give you a little treat. So to all the ships at sea, pick up your camera and go out and make some great photos. Oops! I forgot to mention, Everett Boyd was also there working on his bass parts. Another beautiful and extremely spiritual young man. I love these guys.
Rodman. I was at a Jazz Club one night and I listened to this man and he could blow a mean, mean horn. I invited him to the studio, and he showed up about a week later. What I was looking for was total simplicity. For lack of a better term call it black on black and then highlights on the cheek and horn with fingers. One light. Two black gobos. One small mirror reflector. Camera was Canon F1, Lens 200mm 1.8, PlusX. 90th of a second at 2.8.
Many of my friends know I have had a love affair with film for the last thirty plus years. Twenty years ago, I walked into a cocktail party with approximately 150 people. Out of the 150 people I could only see one; just one. It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. I worked my way through the crowd of martinis, and white wine to get to a gentleman who was drinking a cup of coffee; two creams, two sugars. His name is Hugh Brodie. If you don’t know the name you may know the music. His cousin was Ella Fitzgerald. He was brought up in the south with a saxophone in one hand a painter’s brush in the other. Half Cherokee and half African American; he’s got to be cool. Approximately six or seven years ago, my son Dylan did a short film on Brodie which came in first place in the Black Bear Film Festival. It actually opened the Black Bear Film Festival. Subsequently, Dylan and I have been collaborating on a feature film. The working title is “The Life and Times of Hugh Brodie.” Another possible title is “The Black Cowboy.” Many people have complimented me on some of my photographs of Brodie and I try to explain to them that I have very little to do with the particular photograph. Brodie is so magnificent, so beautiful, so honest, straightforward and sincere. It’s F8 and show up. Okay maybe it’s F2.8 and show up. We are now in the process of cutting and scoring the film. The great editor Victor Goretsky will be doing the editing and the scoring will obviously be Hugh Brodie. We’re looking forward to having it wrap somewhere in the fall of 2011 maybe earlier.
Hugh Brodie and the Cosmic Ensemble will be playing at The Falcon on July 2nd.
Dinner Begins at 5 pm, Opening Act 7pm, Headliner 8pm.