Hugh Abdullah Rashid Brodie, made his final trip to the astral plane on Wednesday, April 05, 2017. He was born on February 07, 1933. Hugh passed very peacefully with his wife Penny at his side. He is survived by his daughters Donna, Hassina and Aisha, a granddaughter Tamara and great grandchildren Camryn and Isaiah. He is pre-deceased by his son Gary. Hugh also has brothers and a sister in New Jersey.
Hugh was a storied jazz veteran. Often when asked to describe himself, he responded first with, “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.
Hugh grew up on his family’s farm in Warrenton County, North Carolina. He was the only son of Howard Brodie and Rosa Mae Austin. Hugh used to sit at his mother’s feet when she played piano at a Sanctified church. Hugh moved north with his family when he was seven, first to Brooklyn then Newark. He began playing saxophone at age 17. He attended Arts High then later the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. As a teen, Hugh also played professional basketball for a short time, on an all-black team. In the early 50’s, he studied the Schillinger method for three years with Eddie Babe. By this time, Hugh was on the road with different organ trios and sometimes backed up legendary saxophonist, Sonny Stitt. Hugh was also a member of the Screen Actors Guild and appeared as an extra in many movies and modeled much of his lifetime.
Hugh began working with composer, musician Cal Massey, in the 60’s and recorded with him on Candid, “Blues for Coltrane.” It was also during this time Hugh moved his family to the Catskills while he was still able to be in New York City. Hugh appeared on an early recording with the Latin Jazz Quintet, “Oh, Pharoah Speak” with Pharoah Sanders, and they recorded one of Hugh’s pieces, “The Dues Prayer.” Hugh also recorded with vibraphonist Vera Auer, “Positive Vibes,” on Honey Dew. Hugh released his first record on his own label, “The Real Thing” in 1975, featuring his daughter, singer, Donna Brodie. In 1981 and 1982, Cadence Jazz Records released, “Hugh Brodie & Impulse, Live and Cooking at the Wild Oat,” and “Bebop Loose & Live” also featuring saxophonist J.R. Monterose.
Hugh had an interest in ancient African history and he also searched, through mediation, different dimensions. He explored the astral works of Monroe, his Mind Institute and how to use, in his music, the concept that some sounds trigger astral projections.
In 1994, “Unforgettable Sax” was recorded in Hollywood and released. Hugh released two more on his own label with his Cosmic Ensemble, “Bye-Bye Fordo Mentality” and “Songs for Anu.” Hugh also paid homage to his mother and their county roots, on his release, “The Black Cowboy Meets Nashville Nellie.” Hugh traveled on his own to Chile and he traveled Europe extensively with the famous Illinois Jacquet big band. Hugh wrote a crowd favorite for that big band called, “Who.”
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 loved his family and was proud of them. He loved his friends and fellow musicians. He traveled the world and made friends and fans wherever he went. Hugh had a strong, infectious spirit. His influence and music will live on and on.
Hugh’s family invites everyone to his service on Saturday April 15th 1-3PM at the Melendez Funeral Home, 30 Grove Street, Middletown NY. A celebration of his life and music will take place at The Falcon, RT 9W, Marlboro, NY on a future date.