Bobby Broom – “Upper West Side Story”


Guitarist Bobby Broom, who has played with a Hall of Fame roster of musicians that includes Sonny Rollins, Stanley Turrentine, and Art Blakey, and who has led his own groups, including the Deep Blue Organ Trio and the Bobby Broom Trio, has a new album out.  This time, it’s all original compositions, and based on the results, it’s obvious he’s been holding out on us.  This music brings the blues and finds time to swing, but, strangely, there’s more of a rainy-day languor to it, even when the tempo and heat rise, and the music is anything but sleepy.  Of course, these types of emotional complexities in a creative piece are ably handled when it’s a veteran doing the crafting.  Broom has more than paid his dues to be considered a jazz vet.  But let’s talk about that music…

Your album personnel: Bobby Broom (guitar), Dennis Carroll (bass), and Kobie Watkins & Makaya McCraven (drums).

I liked this album well enough when I first heard it a couple months ago, but revisiting it over the course of those months has found it forming a stronger bond with my ears.  There’s a warmth to the music on this album that grows stronger as the music becomes more familiar.  It probably has something to do with Broom’s confident unassuming style on guitar; there’s an ease to his play that invites the listener to just kick back and listen, even as it gets the brain to sit up and take notice of the music’s technical strength.  It’s also probably a result of McCraven’s frenetic rhythms that don’t insinuate themselves upon the listener any more than does Watkins’ more laid-back style of drumming on this album.  And there’s no doubt that Carroll’s alluring bass work contributes to the album’s success, especially the slide from low to upper registers on a song like “Father.”  But all of those essential ingredients wouldn’t have the effect they do if it weren’t for the seamless interplay between each of the trio members… that unquantifiable whole-greater-than-sum-of-individual-parts that is so massively important in a group setting, and which, in my opinion, is the quality that frames the individuality of music apart from other creative mediums.  This isn’t an album of solos and support.  This a trio of musicians playing as one.  That kind of interplay is gonna bring some warmth no matter what the intended sound of the music is.

Though it’s not an album that will end up on my Best of 2012 list at year end, it is, however, an album that will be on a shelf near my stereo for quite some time, always wanting it in sight, because it’s gonna get played often.  An album need not be revolutionary or innovative to realize its greatness.  Upper West Side Story is pretty damn great.

Jazz from the Chicago scene.

Released on Origin/OA2 Records.

Download a free album track from AllAboutJazz, courtesy of the artist and label.

Available on eMusic.  Available on Amazon: CD | MP3