Every once in a while, Bobby Broom threatens to recede into the background, the once-prized picture on the wall you no longer notice. Then, for those of us who happen to overlook the local guitarist's weekly gigs at Evanston's Pete Miller's or the Green Mill (with the Deep Blue Organ Trio), he puts out a head-slappingly good record like this and the process begins anew.
The Way I Play is culled from a four-month span last year during Broom's weekly gig at Miller's, and Broom ever-so-gently reminds us what we've been missing. Past recordings have highlighted the Harlem native's ability to jazz up Stevie Wonder (not hard) and early Beatles (harder), but this recording focuses on the bread and butter of Broom's sets: those bewitching standards. Echoing the live '50s Village Vanguard sessions of saxophonist Sonny Rollins, for whom Broom has held guitar duties for the last two decades, Broom dances on a tightrope above the boisterous rhythm section of bassist Dennis Carroll and drummer Kobie Watkins without looking down. Although we know he can comp and lay out the chordal material with the best?pick from a number of modern Rollins discs?he chooses to say just enough, allowing his eloquent outlines to cue us with each tune's shifting harmonies.
The Way I Play came together unintentionally, the result of unsolicited minidisc recordings a student of Broom's made for his own edu-tainment. With most mainstream jazz recordings sounding far too sterile these days, the unfussy, literal recording style here makes Play a refreshing change of pace.