Saturday, July 3, 2010


Alan Broadbent was ASMAC's monthly luncheon speaker on June 23 at Catalina's in Hollywood.  Long a major force in jazz as a pianist and arranger, he's the guy who accomanied Irene Kral on those amazing vocal albums, he did arrangements for Natalie Cole, and plays with Charlie Haden's Quartet West (since the mid-1980s).  His album with 'Round Midnight, a trio with bass player Brian Bromberg and drummer Joe LaBarbera, recevied wide-speard critical acclaim.

Born in 1947 in Auckland, New Zealand, he remembers intensely the first time, at age eight, he heard Chopin and how he became tuned into the emotional power of music. "I played Chopin and my friends played rugby." Broadbent started his professional career playing piano and writing arrangements with the Woody Herman Orchestra (1969-72), including arrangements Blood, Sweat and Tears tunes.  He moved to Los Angeles in 1972, and after some lean times, got a call in 1974 to play with Nelson Riddle's band at the Beverly Hilton, beginning a a gig as Riddle's painist for a decade.  During those years he played many session recordings for David Rose, Johnny Mandel, and Henry Mancini.  Then, according to Broadbent, "The writing thing happened while I was driving from the Radford to Columbia studios"  and he told the ASMAC audience that Mahler's music always inspires him. He admist that he spent a couple of years learning to hear instruments (instead of only the piano).

He's accompanied Sheila Jordan, Sue Raney, Rosemary Clooney, Mel Torme, Karrin Allyson, Mary Stallings, Judy Niemack, and Carol Sloane.  He recorded three ballad albums with Irene Kral (Where is Love, Kravel Space, and Gentle Rain).  He's performed with Chet Baker, Warne Marsh, Scott Hamilton, Bud Shank, Shelly Manne, Bill Berry, Bill Perkins, Gary Foster, Bob Brookmeyer, Jack Sheldon, Don Menza, and Peter Christlieb, among others. His solo piano CD is on the Concord label.

In addition to playing piano, Broadbent is well known as an arranger and conductor, including a stint with Natalie Cole on her "Unforgettable" tour.  He's written for her and they did three albums together (Take a Look, Holly and Ivey, and Stardust).  He's writing for orchestra, including a recent Steve Tyrell Sinatra project. He's conducted and arranged albums for Mel Torme, Scott Hamilton, and Marian McPartland.  Did I mention that he's been nominated for several Grammy Awards?

Impressing the ASMAC audience with his sincerity, humility, and unabashed love for music, Alan is a poetic, pure musician; he's a very soft spoken gentle man, and an amazing talent.  He ended his talk by playing the piano. How fabulous to meet him and hear him talk about his life and career and being reminded why we are in music even when times are tough in the entertainment business. Here he is in a photo with violinst-composer Marcy Vaj. 

If you don't know about ASMAC (American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers), I'd suggest you visit the website:  They have a big event coming up July 22, 2010, honoring Marc Shaiman and Sammy Nestico that will be the subject of future posts.

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