"Blood may be thicker than water, but you can't live without water." class="f-right"> Novelist Jane Porter
While the members of Deep Blue Organ Trio were not brought together by shared parentage, guitarist Bobby Broom
, drummer Chris Rockingham and organist Chris Foreman
share a closeness, mutual respect, and loyalty that many families would envy. Their bond and brotherhood extends beyond their music. These men love what they do and they love the men that they get to do it with.
Like a good family, no one member tries to steal the spotlight from the others. The trio generously allows each one of them to shine while appreciating each of their individual talents. When asked who the leader of the band is, both Broom and Rockingham respectfully credit the other. Though the band is named after Broom, onstage, the guitarist generously introduces Rockingham as the leader. Rockingham says, "Bobby will be the first to tell you, I put this group together. This is sort of a back door way of telling you how much we love each other. Chris and I have been playing together for so long, but Bobby's done the stuff that he's done. So we have no problem with 'Bobby Broom and the Deep Blue Organ Trio.' I have no problem with that at all, because it's Bobby. If it was someone else, it might be an issue. He's a wonderful, wonderful person and a wonderful player. Chris and I have just been together longer, but we feel the same about Bobby as we do about each other. [Foreman agrees] We all have our roles and our jobs to do. When it's time to look to him, he delivers. When it's time for him to look to me, I deliver. When it's time to look to Chris, he delivers. We're cool with each other. That's just the way it is."
"Whatever it takes for us to get the job done," adds Foreman.
"No room for egos here," continues Rockingham.
For Broom, life as a burgeoning jazz guitarist began in early childhood, at around five or six. "I just really loved music and I was way into it, more than I ever realized. As a kid, you don't realize the depth of your feelings, but from my early, early childhood, I knew every instrument part and the words. I thought I must have really been paying attention back then. Then at eight my godfather gave me a guitar and it had four strings. I didn't even know what it was. Turned out it was a tenor guitar, the next step from a banjo. I wasn't interested in it, really."
However, by age twelve, Broom had a completely different outlook about the instrument. "One morning I woke up and just had this new thing: 'Dad I want a guitar.' I don't know where it came from. It was seemingly out of the blue. It was just this burning thing, like I had to have it. So my dad bought me a guitar and a mike, but I told him I didn't want the mike. He said, 'Well I don't know any guitar players that make it just by playing the guitar.'"
So did the microphone help turn Broom into a vocalist? "I've tried singing, but I don't like the way I sound. People have told me to do voiceovers or do radio and I'm like, 'Really?' But I don't hear that, so maybe I can sing and I just don't know it."
Broom focused his attention towards jazz mainly because he often heard it on the radio growing up, especially pianist Herbie Hancock
and the Headhunters. Prior to that, one of Broom's childhood friends and a teacher both tried to steer Broom in that direction, but the guitarist showed little interest. "I had a teacher from age thirteen to sixteen who was a jazz player. He taught me about Wes Montgomery
and tried to get me to listen to Wes but I never followed through. I was not really interested. I also had a friend who played jazz drums and he tried to get me to listen to records, too, but I was just not into it. But then when I listened to these people on the radio, I thought there might be something in jazz that I liked. So I went to the record store and asked who was doing it on the guitar like Herbie Hancock and Grover Washington Jr.
, and the guy told me, 'George Benson
So what did Broom think of Benson's playing? "The freedom of George's style and all the music that I could hear in it was what really attracted me. It was this form of self-expression that I was really attracted to. I thought if I could make myself one day feel some of the emotions that I feel when I am listening to him, that was what I wanted to pursue." And has that pursuit been realized? "I feel in some ways that I've accomplished that, but it's a never-ending kind of thing. You always try to get better and get closer to the source of your inspirationhearing more and being able to play it more accurately. All those kinds of things. It is a never-ending quest. But just in terms of the emotions that I've been able to feel from playing music, yeah, I think I've gotten there."
Several years later, while playing in a band with trumpeter Tom Browne
, Broom got to meet his jazz inspiration. "Tom's manager was George Benson's old manager, from many years prior, before George was even famous. They still had a connection; they owned a club up in Harlem. So that's when I really got to meet George formally. I played my guitar, and that was really cool."
While in high school, Broom got an offer to tour with saxophonist Sonny Rollins
, which the guitarist turned down. "Yeah, I turned it down because I was in high school
. And we are talking music, so there's no contract, not even short term security in the music field. You just operate on a huge amount of faith. My mother was a schoolteacher and there was just an understanding in the household that I obviously was going to go on to college. The fact that I wanted to go for music was enough of a stretch in and of itself. The question was whether or not I was going to go for music education, because I needed something to fall back on. Eventually I did wind up leaving school, dropping out, so to speak, to go on tour because I had the ability to make the choice at nineteen.