On his latest album, Keyed Up, the well-traveled and well-respected guitarist Bobby Broom pays tribute to pianists "who have been an important part of [his] musical life." As he writes, ..."many great pianists who didn't need to include my six-string version of what they could already do harmonically and melodically saw fit to include me. Perhaps, among other things, this is my way of saying 'thank you' to them."
Another way to thank them may have been to include their names as composers somewhere on the album. Instead, one has to read an accompanying press release to learn that the honorees include Bud Powell, McCoy Tyner, James Williams, Mulgrew Miller, Erroll Garner, Chick Corea, Horace Silver and Herbie Hancock who collectively wrote nine of the album's ten numbers (including two takes of Tyner's "Blues on the Corner"). In spite of that, their names are nowhere to be found on the album's jacket or playlist, nor in Broom's adulatory liner notes.
The session's other tune, "Scoochie," was written by trumpeter Booker Ervin for pianist Horace Parlan's 1961 Blue Note album, On the Spur of the Moment. So, pianists were in some way involved in the genesis of every number. Yet another pianist, Justin Dillard, is a member of Broom's efficient quartet, and he doubles from time to time on the Hammond SKX organ. Bassist Dennis Carroll and drummer Kobie Watkins help keep the rhythm in sync.
Broom opens with a bouncy reading of Powell's "Hallucinations" (renamed "Budo" once Miles Davis endorsed it), moving next to Miller's meditative "Second Thoughts" and Corea's melodious "Humpty Dumpty." Williams' easygoing "Soulful Bill" and Silver's quirky "Quicksilver" (played a tad slower than most other versions) precede the venerable "Misty," which Broom was reluctant to include until Carroll reminded him, "It's by Erroll Garner!." Hancock's "Driftin,'" a medium-tempo charmer which belies its name, leads to the first reading of "Blues on the Corner," Ervin's amiable "Scoochie" and "Blues on the Corner," Take 2, which closes the studio recording.
Broom's guitar is bright and nimble, and his teammates carry out their assignments handily and without error. In sum, an above- average but rather less than special album whose astute choice of material (and composers) serves to enhance its charm.
Title: Keyed Up
| Year Released: 2022
| Record Label: Steele Records
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