Bobby Broom: Building a Legacy
Broom knew he couldn't duplicate what he heard. "It seemed so personal, like someone speaking. I thought, 'I want to be able to speak in that way, at some point. With that kind of freedom. The feeling I'm getting from hearing him, I want to be able to give that to myself.' To be able to do that was the inspiration. Then I found that all of jazz made me feel that way, as I then started to trace and go through the music and do research looking for answers to my questions. Finding out about Charlie Parker and Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane and all of the great people in stories and in books and on the backs of the records, the liner notes. Making all those connections. All of jazz and anybody that played it gave me that feeling. At that point it was an obsession. Something I had to do and I wanted to do."
It resulted in a career for the New York City native, who from those teen years has played and recorded with the likes of Hugh Masekela, Kenny Burrell, Charles Earland, Stanley Turrentine, Kenny Garrett, Gillespie, Dr. John, David Murray, and Eric Alexander. He even did a short stint with Miles Davis in the trumpeter's latter, funky period.
After playing as a sideman with remarkable musicians, and getting some of his own recordings out, Broom settled in on a small group sound. His guitar voice floats in and around in those settings. Pierces them at times. Broom's Deep Blue Organ Trio, with Chris Foreman on Hammond B3 and Greg Rockingham on drums, was formed in 1999. They met in the early 1990s around Chicago and did gigs, some of them quite regular, like the Cotton Club in Chicago for about two years. In 1999, they decided to become a regular band. Wonderful! is their fourth recording.
Broom is aware of the great organ trios of the past that featured guitar. "Because of the players that have been involved in making that musicWes Montgomery, Grant Green, Pat Martino, Kenny Burrell. That sound and that instrumentation is documented so well and to such an extent, it has become part of the story of jazz for the guitarist," he explains. "I heard, being a fan of all the guitarists I mention, I heard quite a bit of that music when I became interested in jazz as a teenager and started to pursue it as a fan and a student and enthusiast. Those records were among my favorites. I really had to study those guitar players through that music. And I enjoyed it."
"One of the first records I came across that was a jazz recordingand I didn't really make the differentiation at that point because I was 10 or 11was Charles Earland's Black Talk (OJC, 1969). There was something about that recording that was striking. It was a hit at that time. He did "More Today Than Yesterday" and "Age of Aquarius." That was the first record I recall being obsessed with. This was before I was a student of guitar. I always had some kind of attraction to that music."
Still, Deep Blue Organ Trio seeks its own ground, offers its own take on the genre. Broom says, "As a musician you can only envision what you've ingested and processed. The instrumentation is the same, so you're going to get something that's akin to that sound. But the idea is definitely not to recreate anything that went before. If it reminds people, or even us, of some of the things we liked and are familiar with, that's OK. That may be good. But we like to bring our own perspective to what we're doing and that's the point. We pay standard jazz repertoire on some of the recordings. We also play a lot of modern tunes, or tunes that are from our childhoods. Tunes that were popular for us."
The Stevie Wonder material took a lot of preparation, he says. Unlike the jazz standard repertoire, these songs were new to the band in terms of performance. "We were familiar with them as listeners, but we had to become familiar with them as players. It was a matter of getting comfortable with the material and seeing how the songs would fit our group and how we play. We had to discard some things that we thought we'd be able to play. Maybe it didn't sound the way we wanted it to. It wasn't a comfortable fit. But we came to some good choices. By the time we got to the studio, it was not very difficult to get it together."
The record has good grooves throughout. The heavy funk of Wonder's "Jesus children of America" is tipped into foot-patting swing. Broom's sound and choices during his solo are delectable. The popular "My Cherie Amor" is a tender ballad, dreamy and ethereal, in the hands of this group. Broom squeezes out the sweetness that can be realized in the composition when it's broken down to the essence. The band tells its own story on each selection and its sweet stuff.