Pianist, composer, bandleader Hod O’Brien left the planet on November 20, 2016, at 80, having been dueling with cancer for some time. Illness made him shy, reticent, unwilling to talk about himself — but wanting to shine the spotlight on wife Stephanie Nakasian and daughter Veronica Swift, both singers.

Although Hod was heralded as a bebop pianist, I thought of him more as a great melodist.  Even when he was illuminating songs with altered chords, the melody was never far away.  Here he is, at Mezzrow, on March 19, 2016 — eight months before his death — with the young bassist Daryl Johns.  You’ll understand what I mean about Hod’s deep melodic streak, and the way he cherishes any lyrical composition.  Thank you, Hod, for making beauty for us so generously.




and the sorrowfully appropriate ALL TOO SOON.

I captured Hod at other gigs here and here in 2015 and here in 2016 — performances that show off his gently propulsive lyricism.

May your happiness increase!

7 responses to “HERE’S THE MELODY: HOD O’BRIEN (1936-2016)

  1. Pingback: HERE’S THE MELODY: HOD O’BRIEN (1936-2016) — JAZZ LIVES | I Write The Music

  2. Don "Zoot"Conner

    Thanks, Michael for giving Hod the exposure in the twilight of his life. He was a marvelous pianist who just never got the breaks he deserved. Life can be cruel,particularly to jazz cats. RIP Hod and Slim Gaillard makes two.

  3. he was great and will be missed. thank you for recording-i was at most of these. happy thanksgiving

  4. Hod & I come from the same place in Connecticut , and played together
    thru the1950’s. We reunited in New York City in the 1970’s to record Numatik Swing Band,JCOA, and Flexible Flyer, Arista. He loved Bud Powell and Billy
    Taylor, played great boogiewoogie, and had his own way on the keys.
    I learned a lot from Hod and am sorry for his passing.

  5. Billy the Celloist

    i used to play with Hod, Roswell, and Roswell’s dad, Hop, played drums.
    in the music room at Salisbury School. the memory of that music almost
    makes up for my sadness at hearing of his passing.

  6. Billy the Celloist

    played a lot in the Salisbury School music room summers in the early 50s with Roswell, Hod, and Roswells”s dad, Hop, on drums; Hop played kinda like Sonny Greer, and was the athletic coach at Salisbury; Hop was the coolest.
    Hod always spoke of moving to NYC and “hangin’ out with Billy and Bud.”
    he did move to the city; played a few gigs with him before i left NYC in 1963.
    he had a beautiful pad on Park Ave., courtesy of some lady. Hod had a certain way with the girls.
    he had a full, rich and beautiful sound at the piano, and his way with chords
    extolled his fine way with the melodic. Hod, you be cool like a MF!
    RIP man, see you soon.

  7. Billy the Celloist

    billy the celloist used to be buell neidlinger, for what it’s worth

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