Since making his Carnegie Hall debut at 16 with Sonny Rollins, Bobby Broom has been universally hailed as a consummate sideman, the guitarist of choice for artists ranging from Rollins to Dr. John.
Many sidemen lead quiet lives of desperation, lacking the chutzpah to step out front with their own albums.
Not so with Broom who has ventured out before, but never with such convincing authority as he whisks through chord changes with his tight, working trio featuring bassist Dennis Carroll and drummer Kobie Watkins.
Recorded live in Broom's regular stomping grounds in a Chicago steakhouse, "The Way I Play" is a self-portrait of the artist exhibiting his warm, fluent style on jazz standards and American songbook classics,
With a pianoless format, Broom rules the harmonic roost, sweeping far and wide over tunes ranging from Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee" to McCoy Tyner's "Inception."
On the Rollins classic "Airegin" (Nigeria spelled backwards), Broom demonstrates that he, like Rollins his longtime employer, grooves best on playing themes and inventive variations.
Completely relaxed even among the annoying chatter and clatter of nightclub patrons, the guitarist glories not only in hard-swinging eloquence, but also in lyrical expression as well. His bright, a cappella coda on "Body and Soul" is an elegant mix of chords and spiraling cadenzas.
Maybe with this clean sweep of eight winning tracks, Broom, the champion sideman, will finally achieve top-seeded ranking as a leader with a persona all his own.
Essential download: "Inception"