152

Bobby Broom: Modern Man

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
Call it what you want, Soul Jazz, Organ Jazz, whatever, but the brand of music birthed by the B-3 explosion of the 1960s is alive and well in the third millennium. Blue Note’s new banner reads “One Label Under a Groove” and groups like Medeski, Martin and Wood, and Soulive continue the extract marketable material from the legacy left by such legends as Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff. With all press and popularity surrounding this fresh wave of groove-centric bands players who predate their success are often swept over. Guitarist Bobby Broom and his partners on this recent Delmark date, definitely fall into this category of overlooked artisans.

Broom’s been actively gigging for over two decades and served as sideman to the likes of Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis and Art Blakey over the years. His fluid picking style and mild amplification references such 60s stalwarts as Thornel Schwartz and George Benson. Dr. Smith, also known under the tongue-in-cheek sobriquet of The Turbanator, shows a level of restraint that negates the hurricane histrionics suggested by his nickname. Dealing in easy swirling fills and well-oiled accents, his light touch at the keyboard fits smoothly into the leader’s relaxed musical framework. Muhammad, once known as one of the funkiest drummers on the scene also plays things cool, never resorting to heavy-sticked bombast and instead covering the rhythmic range with taste and discretion. Ronnie Cuber, a baritonist who believes in the merits of both brawn and balladry, interestingly got his start in Smith's employ during the late 60s at the apex of the original organ jazz craze. Live at the Club Mozambique, an album they cut for Blue Note, is an excellent example of their early fireworks.

The skill and restraint shown by each man makes the prospect of lumping the quartet alongside the current crop groove purveyors appear an unfair enterprise. Seasoning their music with subtle underlying syncopations their sounds are more aligned with swinging post-bop than the greasy funk favored by their peers. The grooves aren’t thick and pasty, but instead porous and enveloping. The band’s reworking of the Stevie Wonder classic “Superstition” is a fitting microcosm of their esthetic. Gone are the fat and funky electric piano beats of Stevie’s original version. In their place is a lubricious distillation of the theme forwarded by Cuber and Broom in unison above a bustling, bopish rhythm. Ballads like “Ponta Grossa” and “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again,” while taken at slower tempos and often imbued with a softer sheen still maintain a steep level of musicianship.

Where the disc slips a few notches is in the chosen material. Given the reputations and past work of the players there’s a surprising amount of caution on hand in the arrangements. While pleasant several, such as the set ending “Layla” seem slightly divorced from the fire and weight this band is so obviously capable of stoking. Still, compared to most of what passes for organ jazz these days the program has enough sparks to make it worth investigation. More importantly may it serve as the catalyst to raise awareness of these players above and beyond the core audience that are already hip to their substantial and satisfying grooves.

Delmark on the web: http://www.delmark.com


Track Listing: Dance for Osiris; Ponta Grossa; Superstition; Mo

Personnel: Bobby Broom - guitar; Ronnie Cuber - Baritone Saxophone; Dr. Lonnie Smith - organ; Idris Muhammad - drums

Title: Modern Man | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Delmark Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn CD/LP/Track Review Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Queen City Blues CD/LP/Track Review Queen City Blues
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Latin Lover CD/LP/Track Review Latin Lover
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Reclamation CD/LP/Track Review Reclamation
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 18, 2017
Read The Princess CD/LP/Track Review The Princess
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Provenance CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 17, 2017
Read "Translator's Note" CD/LP/Track Review Translator's Note
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 28, 2017
Read "Peace" CD/LP/Track Review Peace
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 18, 2016
Read "Moon Trio: Earth-Time" CD/LP/Track Review Moon Trio: Earth-Time
by Marithe Van der Aa
Published: February 9, 2017
Read "Polygon" CD/LP/Track Review Polygon
by Pascal-Denis Lussier
Published: May 21, 2017
Read "Hope Of Home" CD/LP/Track Review Hope Of Home
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 2, 2017
Read "Transitions" CD/LP/Track Review Transitions
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 23, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor