Phil Bodner

Phil Bodner was the most active reed player of the space-age pop era. He played on many albums that were recorded in New York between the mid-1950s to the early 1970s. It may prove more difficult to find recordings that Bodner isn’t on. Bodner, Tony Mottola and Doc Severinson were all mainstays at Enoch Light’s Command record label. Bodner, like the other musicians, had excellent technical proficiency on his instrument, in his case the entire gamut of woodwinds. He began his career as a professional musician in New York City around the mid-1940s after completing music studies at New York University. As a sought-after session musician, he spent the majority of his time in and around recording studios for the next three decades. Benny Goodman’s small band of early 1950s musicians included him, as well as other session musicians like Milt Hinton (bass) and Urbie Green (trombone). As a member the Metropolitan Jazz Quartet (piano, drums and bass), he recorded five albums for MGM. Enoch Light’s Persuasive Percussion series, and Ethel Gabriel’s Living Jazz series for RCA Camden are just a couple of the many studio gigs Bodner was a part of. Don Elliott loved him and other Madison Avenue jingle writers. He also played behind hundreds radio and television commercial spots. Living Brass, Living Marimbas, and Living Guitars were all created by Ray Martin. They were arranged and performed largely by Phil Kraus. Living Jazz’s albums have a light, bossa-nova-flavored sound that mixes current hits with old standards and originals. However, it is unfair to label them as “easy listening jazz”, even though that is what their liner notes suggested. Bodner was able to emerge from the anonymity of session recording when he started recording for ABC’s Dunhill label as the head of The Brass Ring, a studio group. Bodner took Herb Alpert’s Tijuana brass sound and softened it by adding melody to the reeds, and loosening rhythm to a light, swinging beat. The result is the iconic sound of mid-late 1960s instrumental music style, known as The Now Sound. In fact, the Brass Ring recorded a Bodner song as the title tune to their album, “The Now Sound”. Ironically, Madison Avenue gave Bodner the highest compliment and made the Brass Ring famous when they used their tune, “The Advantages of You”, as the theme for a series of amusing television commercials featuring Benson and Hedges cigarettes. The group also had minor hits like “The Love Theme From The Flight of the Phoenix.” Bodner maintained an active schedule of studio bookings even after the Then Sound was created. In the 1970s, Bodner began to slow down and was now appearing in New York City clubs regularly as part of a swing quartet with Mel Lewis, George Duvivier and Marty Napoleon. from

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