The very coolest jazz guitarists can burn when it's not obvious. They don't need to show off. But somehow there's a tipping point, the rhythm changes and tentative narrative forays up and down the frets turn into paragraphs, pages and chapters, the characters are created and the music speaks to you via the guitarist's imagination in real time. Eddie Lang, Django, and Charlie Christian started the ball rolling in this regard but thankfully there are still a few people to keep the flame alive. The usual suspects you know but one guitarist who should be a usual suspect but sometimes gets overlooked, out there currently supporting the Dan with his Organi-sation, is Sonny Rollins sideman Bobby Broom here with his cultured trio of bassist Dennis Carroll, and drummer Makaya McCraven.
"Sweet and Lovely" opens things up on this Chicago studio recording made in March just this year. You have to be patient with the record, it's not going to muck about and go for the obvious yet things just happen like they're supposed to, musically. Take the passage on the mellow "My Ideal" just before the drummer starts to assert himself at low rattly volume trading licks with Bobby. You'll hear McCraven has an Al Foster kind of thing going (check Newk's Here's To The People for Foster in action), that universal syncopation, and those clever points of entry you really can't predict even when it's telegraphed.
One of the great things about this excellent record is it shows that playing familiar tunes (venerable standards to you and me) needn't be an obstacle at all. The trio rebirth all these old tunes. The rubato early on "Just One of Those Things" is an indication that we're near the tipping point if you're listening to all the tracks in a sequence and then it's clover all the way. Broom draws on the more baritone register of his guitar in his involved solo on the Cole Porter tune, the bass and drums obbligati effortless but crucial, Carroll channelling his Jimmy Blanton-like side and walking the tune later.
The title track, a Harold Arlen song, has a beautifully installed tempo at the outset, and we're just waiting for Broom to speak with his instrument, which he does very eloquently. The beginning to "Sweet Georgia Brown" sounds as if it's a New Orleans rhythm Herlin Riley might play, Broom later moving into a George Benson-like space. "The Heather on the Hill," a Frederick Loewe tune from 1940s musical Brigadoon is nowadays not covered so much as a standard and works well here in the context again allowing Broom to retreat. McCraven on brushes helps bring the atmosphere down to an intimate level, and this is the most romantic part of the album. Broom picks out a monster riff briefly at the beginning of modernist favourite "The Jitterbug Waltz" and the tune takes on a heavy vibe Carroll beefing the low line up confidently. By covering "The Tennessee Waltz" at the end it's a partial homage to Sonny Rollins, just one of the highlights of an album that shows a lot of learning and tries out a great many ideas that turn out to work.