Bobby Broom: Swept Away by the Music

Cicily Janus By

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AAJ: Do you think jazz magazines and critics help or hurt the scene, especially when it comes to getting new names in print or heard by others?

BB: I don't pretend to know how this end of the business actually works. I'm not sure what comes first, the chicken or the egg, the talent or the recognition, in terms of how somebody's success is mapped out. But, I do know that there are certain segments of this business that have to be accounted for and dealt with. The media, getting airplay, etc.; and the fact that, if you want to work live, you almost always have to have an agent. I don't think it's necessarily magazines' or critics' fault that we have to play by these rules. But I'm sure we all wonder sometimes how talent falls into the equation as far as who gets recognized and who doesn't.

Bobby Broom Bobby Broom with bassist Dennis Carroll

I've had a live gig for thirteen years and we made a live recording from that venue that received a fair amount of notice. I know that that gig has gone unnoticed for a long time by many area jazz journalists; I have to think—or hope—that it's not their fault. I guess it has to be a combination of everything working for me to have them know or care about what I'm doing. But it seems that the people who are known enter a revolving door of a certain favored group. It's a limited scope. When I was a young musician trying to figure out what was what and who was who, I thought some of these sources were very good but I still only paid attention to what and who I was interested in. I didn't let magazines dictate everything I thought. I even had to disregard some things. I guess that was good on my part, as a kid, to be able to do that and not take everything that was printed as law.

AAJ: What is it about this music that draws you in to keep going through even the tough times?

BB: As a young teenager, I was attracted by the jazz spirit. There was something coming from those records I listened to—a feeling—that kept me coming back on a daily basis. I wanted to be one of these guys but I felt that surely, I'd missed the opportunity. I was born thirty years too late. When the magic started to happen in the opportunities to play with guys like Al Haig and Walter Bishop, Jr., Jr., Sonny, Art Blakey, it fueled my fire, because I never let my feelings of doubt deter me from practicing and pursuing my burning desire to play jazz music.

There's something that captivates me in a beautiful melody, or in a performance of one that's undeniably powerful I wonder if we tend to forget about these simple, universal characteristics in this day and age. I feel that this is missing in a lot of the music that's currently happening. Of course this isn't missing in all of it, and I'm thrilled to hear something that's modern and has these qualities.

I'm a music lover, really, a music fan and a listener. When I hear music I want to feel like I did early on, when I was captivated and taken away. I want to be engaged. I don't want to have a figure out a whole lot, that's not what music is for me. It's not math. I didn't enter music thinking that way, but at some point, during my pursuit to be a jazz musician, I got into that mindset of rigorous study. Everything I heard I was thinking and analyzing and asking every question in the book. Of course we all do this as students. But for me, it had to end. I'm forty-eight years old and I've found my way back to what I like and I'm satisfied with that.

I know this isn't the end of what I'm going to do but the wild search has got to end. I have to find a way to make this a more peaceful journey. Part of this entails the realization that there's always going to be something new and different on the scene. There's always going to be somebody younger and older; seasoned and less seasoned. It's ever-changing, as far as my perspective is concerned. But, what doesn't change is the great feeling that existed in Louis Armstrong, that has gone through and remains a part of every great jazz musician I've heard.

Selected Discography

Bobby Broom, Plays for Monk (Origin, 2009)

Bobby Broom, The Way I Play: Live in Chicago (Origin, 2008)

Sonny Rollins, Road Shows Vol. 1 (Doxy, 2008)

Bobby Broom,Song and Dance (Origin, 2007)

Sonny Rollins, Sonny, Please (Doxy, 2006)

Photo Credits

Page 1, Ernest Gregory

Page 2, Courtesy of Bobby Broom


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