Friday, April 18, 2008

R.I.P.: Phil Bodner

Only today I became aware that Phil Bodner has passed away on February 24, 2008, in NY.(pictured above is the cover of a CD compilation released in 2007 by the Arbors label, "Once More with Feeling!")

Mr. Bodner was one of the most-in-demand session men in NY for over 50 decades, and one of the most versatile reedmen ever, having appeared in over 800 album, playing such instruments as Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Flute, Alto Flute, Piccolo, Oboe, English Horn, Baritone Horn, Soprano Sax, Alto Sax, Tenor Sax and Baritone Sax. I felt deeply moved when I watched him playing many of these reeds on the Japanese LaserDisc release of Charles Mingus' "Epitaph" (yet to be reissued on DVD).

Born Philip L. Bodner on June 13, 1919 in Waterbury, CT, he recorded with "everybody"; from Billie to Sinatra, from Petula Clark and Benny Goodman to George Benson, Joe Williams, Tito Puente, Tony Bennett, Joey DeFrancesco and even Milton Nascimento.

I grew up reading his name (and listening to his "sounds") on hundreds of jazz albums, including legendary Miles Davis/Gil Evans sessions and mainly in dozens of CTI dates - from Deodato's "Prelude" (2001) to Benson's "White Rabbit".

Although his recordings as a leader often focused on his clarinet playing and included some Brazilian-oriented LPs for RCA in the 60s ("Quiet Nights", "The Girl from Ipanema and Other Hits" and "Living Jazz' The Soul of Brazil", its tracklist ranging from "Mamae Eu Quero" to "Mas Que Nada"), his ability on reed instrument had no boundaries. Specially during the 60s and 70s, Phil Bodner, George Marge and Romeo Penque formed the "dream reed section" of all arrangers (including Claus Ogerman, Gil Evans, Oliver Nelson, Don Sebesky, Bob James, Michel Legrand, Lalo Schifrin) and producers (Teo Macero and Creed Taylor, among others).

Many CDs reissues that I produced include Phil's name on the credits. Among them, many CTI/Kudu titles and three Luiz Bonfa albums (including "Jacaranda", on which Bodner does some gorgeous flute playing in the same level of Hubert Laws). Obviously, he performed on some Jobim's albums "Matita Pere" and "The Composer of Desafinado, Plays" as well as on several Astrud Gilberto's session such as "Beach Samba" and even on Milton Nascimento's 1993 "Angelus".

On Milt Jackson's sumptuous "Sunflower" album, Phil Bodner is credited as playing: Flute, Alto Flute, Piccolo and English Horn.
On Benson's legendary "White Rabbit", he can be heard also on Oboe and Baritone Horn.
On Don Sebesky's "Giant Box" masterpiece, he also played Soprano Sax and Alto Sax.
In many other albums, he also played Alto Sax.

Mr. Bodner will be missed by all the people he touched in the music business. More details can be found on this excellent website:

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