Guitar, Saxophone, and Hammond B-3 comprise the classic groove lineup. Jimmy Smith’s early-sixties ensembles with Kenny Burrell and Stanley Turrentine and George Benson’s quartet of the mid-sixties epitomize the format; guitarist Bobby Broom revives it on his latest release. Joined by ex-Benson quartet members Ronnie Cuber and Dr. Lonnie Smith, Broom offers a straight-ahead take on the funk format.
Modern Man ’s play list is varied: Broom originals; a contribution by Cuber; standards; and, in true jazz spirit, interpretations of contemporary pop tunesin this instance, Stevie Wonder’s "Superstition" and Clapton’s "Layla". The variety in songs insures some gems and an opportunity for each musician to flex his chops. Lithe picking characterizes the leader’s guitar sound; on the medium up-tempo opener, Broom avoids chords during the long, flowing development of his ideas. Rhythmic precision also defines Broom’s voiceimprovising on "Superstition", he chooses staccato phrasing that mirrors the bouncy rhythm of the melody. Cuber presents various inflections throughout the set. He emits a fat sound on "Dance for Osiris" that hovers in the mid-ranges as he stretches notes out. On his own "Ponta Grossa" he elegantly traverses the scope of his horn hitting some low buzzing honks. And he really swings on "Mo’", sounding reminiscent of a cross between Coleman Hawkins and Hank Mobley. Lonnie Smith’s presence is more subdued than his instrument might lead one to suspect. The organist provides just enough B-3 groove without overpowering the proceedings.
The soul jazz format of the ensemble aside, the real sensibility that informs Modern Man is straight-ahead bop. The songs all sport catchy, well-defined melodies that Broom and/or Cuber strongly state in the beginning and reprise at the end. Idris Muhammad brings his New Orleans swing to the date that reinforces the straight-ahead schema. The standard, "Old Devil Moon", exemplifies the band’s bop inclination. Cuber’s throaty baritone establishes the familiar theme. Clocking in at almost ten minutes, everyone gets a chance to stretch out. True to the paradigm, the quartet trades fours before Cuber wraps things up. A refined melange of groove format with a command of the bop idiom makes Bobby Broom’s most recent contribution a satisfying experience for every taste.
Personnel: Bobby Broom - guitar; Ronnie Cuber - Baritone Saxophone; Dr. Lonnie Smith - organ; Idris Muhammad - drums