Although Bobby Broom has been a mainstay as one of the great modern guitarists in the Chicago scene for many years, he pays tribute to his upbringing in Harlem with his new disc, Upper West Side Story
. The recording is Broom?s first that features all original compositions, as performed by some of the finest modern musicians in Chicago, including Dennis Carroll on bass, as well as Kobie Watkins and Makaya McCraven alternating on drums.
Not only are Broom?s originals dynamic and compelling, but the trio expertly balances cerebral group interaction with shades of soul that make for gripping guitar trio music. While Broom hints at modern guitar greats such as George Benson and Pat Metheny, his style is certainly his own. In particular, the way in which he often follows the capricious logic of his improvisations to their logical conclusion is quite impressive. Bassist Dennis Carroll displays particularly incisive accompaniment, following his bandmates? exploration while anchoring the trio in a deep soulful swing feel. Drummers Watkins and McCraven are both equally electrifying, often ratcheting up the intensity of many of Broom?s terrific originals.
Broom begins the disc on a particularly groovy note with ?D?s Blues,? a slow, yet busy blues that is drenched with soul to the core. Carroll opens strong with a brief cadenza, laying down his huge, woody sound before playing a rock solid ostinato that sets up the melody. Broom is all soul on a wonderful melody that could have been neatly at home on a ?70s George Benson album. What is so impressive about this track is how the trio explores with modernist dazzle all while retaining the deep feeling of the blues. Special credit goes to Watkins who provides sympathetic, virtuosic accompaniment to Broom?s melody on ?Upper West Side Story.? Broom in particular delivers a wonderfully creative and dynamic solo over the modal tune, with Carroll adding remarkable spontaneous, intuitive accompaniment. ?After Words? is a beautifully whimsical 3/4 tune. Broom and Carroll solo with particular invention over a groove that is loose but always in control.
?Minor Major Mishap? is a tune that is just as quirky as its alliterative title. The tune moves capriciously from a slow repeating melody to a driving up-tempo groove featuring scintillating virtuosity from Broom. The solo section contains the most interactive group dynamic on the album, much of it due to McCraven and Carroll?s supreme musical flexibility. ?Lazy Sundays,? a mid-tempo straight-ahead vehicle, may have the most interesting twists and turns of any of Broom?s memorable melodies. ?Fambrocious (for Fambrough)? is an up-tempo swinger dedicated to bassist Charles Fambrough, famous for his work with Art Blakey?s Jazz Messengers and many other groups. ?Fambrocious? propels forward with the force of a freight train. The tune features some of the strongest soloing by Broom as well as fascinating interplay from Carroll.
?Father? features a wonderfully lyrical melody, followed by ?Call Me A Cab,? which returns to some of the deep, soulful groove of the opening track. ?When The Falling Leaves?,? an expressive ballad, ends this recording on a sentimental note, featuring one of Broom?s most emotive solos on the entire disc. Overall, this soulful, interactive collection of originals comes highly recommended.