"Survey with the Strings On Top"
Beg your pardon for the atrocious pun, but it sort of introduces this survey of jazz and blues releases instrumented by bass and guitar players.
Chicago native Bobby Broom has been playing guitar since he was about eleven. He decided to become a professional musician after hearing guitarist George Benson kick ass throughout Bad Benson, and was invited on tour by colossal saxophonist Sonny Rollins when Broom was only sixteen.
You don't hear or read the phrase "song and dance man" much any more. All the mutations and manipulations of jazz make it easy to overlook or even forget the fact that in many of its best respects jazz is "song and dance" music: Numerous great jazz pieces first germinated as alternative workouts on the harmonic and melodic structures underlying popular songs; in addition, much great jazz was conceived and executed as music to be clapped, stomped and danced to.
In many of these best respects guitarist Bobby Broom's Song and Dance is a classic jazz album. "Jazz musicians have been doing this since the beginning, taking popular music and interpreting it," says Broom. "Each generation claims its own standards, and these are some of mine." His sixth release as a leader presents the intuitive sound of his trio with drummer Kobie Watkins and bassist Dennis Carol, with whom Broom has played since 1990. "These performances are as much about the sound of my trio and our overall presentation as they are about me," Broom notes.
What's most striking about this sound is how each musician contributes to its cohesiveness, which allows the leader freedom to dash about the arrangements and play multiple parts on his single instrument. Watkins and Carol inflate "You and the Night and the Music" with a new and genuine rhythmic bounce that catapults the leader between the original melody and improvisations thereupon.
Similarly, these arrangements of "Wichita Lineman" and "Where is the Love" set Broom free to "sing with himself": Broom plays the "Wichita Lineman" melody with little embellishment, accompanying his plucking with strummed supporting chords, and in a very personal, almost conversational toneˇwhen he plays the lines "And I'll love you for forever/And forever's a long time," you can almost hear the actual words come through.
The roomy "Where is the Love" gives Broom space to play each line sung in point and counterpoint by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway on their famous duet, ringing out their lines clearly with warm, almost vocal-sounding, intonation. In each case, in almost every case on Song and Dance, Broom's resounding lack of pretence creates personal interpretations that allow the beauty of the original melodies to shine through instead of overpowering or obliterating them.