Guitarist Bobby Broom has had a career in jazz envious of many. He's played with Miles Davis, Stanley Turrentine, Dr. John, Charles "Mighty Burner" Earland, and Sonny Rollins, to name but a few. Born in Harlem and currently living in Evanston, Illinois, Broom began playing the guitar in junior high school and credits his first guitar teacher with trying to point him in a jazz direction. He credits George Benson's Bad album for helping drive him into wanting to be a professional musician. Becoming more and more known for his educational work, Broom earned a graduate degree in music from Northwestern University and currently teaches at DePaul University.
Song And Dance, Broom's sixth recording as a leader, finds him in the company of his regular working band, bassist Dennis Carroll and drummer Kobie Watkins. The album's concept was to cover the popular and R&B hits from the 1960s and 70s, performing them in the same conceptual framework as the tunes we currently consider to be standards from the 1940s and 50s. For the next generation, the music of the 1960s and 70s is there history, and creating an updated coterie of standard material is a concept jazz artists have been working towards for some time now.
To say Broom is talented and has technique is a given. To further point out he swings like nobody's business and has an adept touch and flowing finesse with phrase is also beyond dispute. Throughout the disc he and his band play of a mind that can only be honed from a long time working association. From the first notes of The Beatles "Can't Buy Me Love" to the last note of Broom's original "Waiting And Waiting," the group moves in directions as smoothly as snakes skim the sands of the Sahara. For example, when the bass drops out at the beginning of Broom's solo to "Can't" the simpatico between his lines and Watkins' fills are clearly linked. When Carroll reenters with a graceful walking bass line the band kicks up to another level entirely.
Further fine examples include a wonderful reading of the Carpenters' "Superstar." This tune, a long overlooked fine example of the wonderful material available for mining from this time period, is finely given the best redo since Woody Herman's band covered it in the 1970s when the song first appeared. Broom's lines dart and weave and lightly touch upon small motivic concepts that are later strung together into sinuous phrase structures. Watkins and Carroll immediately recognize the high harmonic concepts in play and lay back in support than on the other pieces. By the very end the group swings hard in as subdued a manner as one can swing in an understated manner. The end result is sublime and artful play between where Broom starts and where he ends.
The only problem with the recording, and it is a rather serious one, is the extent to which the bass is left too low in the mix. To clearly hear Carroll's interplay with Broom the listener will have to really turn the volume up ñ which is not necessarily a bad thing.