February 8, 2007 — Bobby Broom’s Song and Dance, to be released March 20 by Origin Records, opens up a momentous new stage in the Chicago guitarist’s long and diverse career. The CD, his sixth as a leader, features his formidable working trio--bassist Dennis Carroll, a member since 1990, and Kobie Watkins, a young drummer who came on board three years ago. And it displays a mature and confident vision, on Broom’s part, as producer, bandleader, composer/arranger, improviser, and master instrumentalist.
“After hearing Bobby Broom in his formative days in New York,” says the bassist Ron Carter, “I am not surprised to hear a wonderful CD showing a talent fulfilled.” And saxophonist Sonny Rollins, who first invited the 16-year-old Bobby to appear with him at Carnegie Hall and has worked with him on countless occasions since, calls Broom “an extraordinary musician. I love playing with him.”
The repertoire on Song and Dance is an inspired mix of originals (“Coming Home,” “Blues for Modern Man,” “Waiting and Waiting”), standards (“Smile,” “You and the Night and the Music”), and radio staples Bobby heard coming up in the “60s and “70s (“Where Is the Love?,” “Superstar”). Song choices such as the Little Rascals’ theme “Good Old Days” may seem surprising, but Broom points out that “jazz musicians have been doing this since the beginning, taking popular music and interpreting it.” He adds that “Each generation claims its own standards, and these are some of mine.”
The Broom trio, which brings a mix of soul, groove, and urban improvisation that’s unique in the jazz world today, has been based since 1999 at Pete Miller’s Steakhouse in Evanston, Illinois, where they hold forth every Wednesday. “It’s great to have a home base,” says the guitarist. “We’re able to develop ideas in a natural way without rehearsing per se, to deepen and solidify the concept. It’s a commitment to the group, and a way to stay in shape while you’re at home.” Broom is presently looking at offers to take his trio on tour.
Born in New York in 1961, Bobby Broom started playing the guitar at age 11 and, after hearing George Benson’s Bad Benson just a few years later, decided to become a professional musician. He made rapid progress and, at 16, was invited to tour with Sonny Rollins. In deference to his parents” wishes that he finish school (Manhattan’s High School of Music and Art), Broom declined, but ended up joining Rollins’s band for a time in the early “80s, and again in 2005.
Broom’s recording debut came in 1980, on trumpeter Tom Browne’s GRP album Love Approach (which contained the hit “Funkin” for Jamaica”). The following year Bobby signed with the label and recorded Clean Sweep, with Victor Bailey and Omar Hakim.
Relocating in Chicago when he was just 23, Broom became an in-demand sideman who worked with Kenny Burrell, Stanley Turrentine, Dr. John, and Charles Earland, in addition to Rollins. Albums under his own name include No Hype Blues (1995), Waiting and Waiting (1997), and a pair of CDs released in 2001--Stand! and Modern Man. Bobby is also a member of the Deep Blue Organ Trio, along with organist Chris Foreman and drummer Greg Rockingham; they’ve recorded a CD (Deep Blue Bruise) and CD/DVD (Goin” to Town: Live at the Green Mill) for Delmark.
Bobby Broom, Jazz Musician & Educator
Bobby Broom has been active in jazz education since 1982, when he joined the staff at Jackie McLean’s African American Music Studies Department at the University of Hartford. Last year, he completed work on a Master’s in Jazz Pedagogy at Northwestern University; he currently teaches at DePaul University.
“The best education I ever received was in the form of mentoring and apprenticeship,” says Broom. “Now, because of my experience as a performer as well as an educator, I find myself in the position to give back.” He’s particularly gratified that one of his guitar students is newly enrolled at Juilliard on a full scholarship.
In an extension of his role as educator, Broom is also a savvy communicator and jazz philosopher who contributes a provocative essay every other month to Chicago Jazz magazine. (They’re posted on his blog.)
In Bobby Broom the jazz guitarist, many listeners can identify the musical and spiritual connection to the lineage of Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery, and George Benson. “I’ve become increasingly aware over the past seven years or so, from email and direct feedback, that I’m seen as a sort of jazz guitar hero by a lot of people,” says Broom. “Certainly in Chicago, the jazz-student/younger-generation-of-jazz-musician contingent has begun to look to me as a leader, because of the level of my work, my experience, and the fact that I’ve performed with the jazz legends I have.
”It took some time for me to get used to this role, but I have come to terms with it more and more. My credentials and jazz pedigree are bona fide, and my music speaks for itself."
Origin Records: www.originarts.com
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