"I write the way I write. I play the way I play. There's nothing I can do about it!"
Acclaimed bassist and producer Brian Bromberg has garnered a hard--earned reputation as one of the most versatile and respected players in music, amassing an enviable catalog of straight ahead and contemporary jazz showcasing both upright and electric basses. Confounding the music industry with a string of innovative, eclectic releases since 1985, Bromberg has spent the last decade recording projects driven by very specific sounds and themes--from Wood (acoustic bass) and Metal (electric bass) to other diverse projects celebrating the artistry of fretless bass pioneer Jaco Pastorious (Jaco) and his Grammy®--nominated smooth grooves of Downright Upright.
On his fourth project for the Mack Avenue label imprint Artistry Music, Brian unleashes another wide palette of styles letting the chips fall where they may. It's a decidedly funky 13--track set that features a killer horn section and includes not only evocative original compositions but also two cover songs that are sure to raise some eyebrows: The B--52s' new wave dance classic "Love Shack" and Quincy Jones' instantly recognizable TV--Land nugget "Sanford & Son Theme (The Streetbeater)."
An A--list of musical peers join the fun including George Duke, Patrice Rushen, Jeff Lorber, Randy Brecker, Eric Marienthal, Gerald Albright, Richard Elliot, Rick Braun, Will Kennedy, Dave Weckl, Alex Acuña, Paul Jackson Jr., Dan Siegel and more--all of whom are given ample opportunity to shine.
So what do you call a CD like this? It Is What It Is.
Brian explains, "I've done a lot of acoustic playing lately so I wanted to feature my electric basses more. But I wasn't trying to make a showy, NAMM show demo kind of record for bass players only--that's not me. Within the songs and arrangements, I use my various basses in many ways. Since I play a lot of piccolo bass (which is a bass tuned to the register of a guitar) it allows me to play lead melodies and some rhythm groove parts that are quite a different role than what you would normally play on a bass with standard tuning. That helps me express myself in different ways and not have everything I play sound the same. I want the music to stand on its own in song--oriented ways yet also push the envelope as a bassist. The result is very in your face--unapologetically so--with a very discernible level of integrity."
The music on It is What It Is shakes out--literally and figuratively--as a joyous celebration of the amazing breadth of sounds capable by the bass. On the title track, Brian doubles the melody, harmonizes with himself and grooves his tail off using both 4--and 5--string basses in addition to a tenor bass. Meanwhile on the humorously titled "Excuse Me?," he uses different effects on his hollow body piccolo, tenor, 4--string and upright basses to simulate plucking, burping and other, um, gaseous sounds to funky effect. "Heaven" showcases the warmer, more beautiful sound of the instruments and is one of four numbers with strings arranged by Tom Zink. Brian sets up a lovely duet with himself on fretless bass and nylon string acoustic piccolo bass for a gorgeous Brazilian--lilted backbeat waltz. And on "The Mirror," he cuts back to just a tenor bass for a solo piece that speaks to the listener like a heartfelt soliloquy. Brian stresses that while guitars are present on the disc in rhythmic and textural coloring roles, all melodic leads throughout the album are played on basses--typically piccolo basses with strings tuned to the register of a guitar.