Owen Broder: Hodges: Front And Center – Vol. Two

Florida-raised saxophonist with trumpet, piano, bass and drums pays tribute to Johnny Hodges, occasionally hinting at more modern vocabulary


There is something relaxed, warm, and old fashioned about this release. Broder is a saxophonist who was influenced originally by Johnny Hodges and still feels a gravitational pull towards his hero.

The present album is the second to present music by or associated with Hodges and this volume concentrates on music written or co-written by the altoist. Broder’s concept for the CD was based on two albums co-led by Hodges and Duke Ellington in 1959: Back To Back and Side By Side.

Used To Be Duke kicks things off, with Broder sounding much like his hero in broad terms of phrasing and delivery. However, he manages to make the quintet sound quite modern at times, particularly on the uptempo selections. Mulherkar’s trumpet lines are lyrical in a Clark Terry mode, so he fits in very well. Carmen Staaf’s piano swings lightly and effectively and her slightly dissonant intro to St Louis Blues is unusual in this context. Once the horns come in though it is back to conventional Ellington-type swing, so all is well.

Back Beat lopes along neatly with blossoming alto sax and crisp, laidback trumpet and Shady Side is a very slow blues which Broder and company play with warmth and feeling. The music is melodic and attractive in an old but far from forgotten style although occasionally you can hear modern, almost boppish lines breaking through. I almost wrote that they don’t make records like this anymore, but obviously they do, and this is one of them. Sounds good.

Used To Be Duke; Wabash Blues; Back Beat; Big Smack; St. Louis Blues; Shady Side; Stompy Jones; The Star Crossed Lovers (40.48)
Broder (as, bar); Riley Mulherkar (t); Carmen Staaf (p); Barry Stephenson III (b); Bryan Carter (d). No location or dates listed.
Outside In Music 2402