Bobby Broom

In a career spanning three decades, preeminent guitarist Bobby Broom has embodied the truism that it’s the player not the tune that makes for a memorable performance in jazz. After years as an elite sideman with the likes of Sonny Rollins, Stanley Turrentine, and Dr. John, Broom reintroduced himself to the jazz world. In his subsequent releases he’s demonstrated a keen ear for rarely played material, a gift for composing evocative tunes, and impressive facility with the knotty rhythmic puzzles of Thelonious Monk. He formed the Bobby Broom Trio in 1990 and the Deep Blue Organ Trio with organist Chris Foreman and drummer Greg Rockingham in 1999, a group that recorded four blues-steeped albums before recently disbanding. With the trio serving as his primary creative vehicle, he’s released a string of critically acclaimed albums. Though he’s far too young to belong to the old school, Broom hews to the hoary jazz ethic that puts a premium on long-standing musical relationships. Dennis Carroll, who came up on the Chicago scene playing with heavyweights like Jodie Christian, Bunky Green, and Clifford Jordan, has anchored Broom’s trio for more than two decades. There’s been more turnover in the drum chair, which has become something of a launching pad for stellar young players. From George Fludas and Dana Hall to Kobie Watkins, Broom’s drummers have all joined the elite ranks. McCraven, who started playing with Broom about five years ago, is on the same trajectory. “Makaya McCraven is all of 29, and he came along after Kobie was getting really busy,” Broom says. “He’s got a certain nonstop intensity and energy, a free-flowing array of ideas that touch on a variety of styles. His dad is a professional drummer who lives in Paris and played with Archie Shepp, and his mom is a Hungarian folk musician, so he’s got jazz, world music, and funk at his fingertips. And Dennis and I have played for such a long time we really work as a tandem. He realized early on he had a lot of space to work with because I’m not directing him by playing chords all of the time. He’s very harmonically astute, and wants to find the right colors for the moment.” Young musicians can learn a great deal by paying close attention to Broom’s trio, a band that serves as an ideal forum for the guitarist’s singular vision, while “bringing in everybody’s musical conception,” he says. “I’ve played with a bunch of other people, and Dennis and Makaya have too, but it’s a specific, unique sound when we get together with each other.” Playing with enviable clarity and power, allied with exactly the right players, Broom is seizing the moment. More than a title track, “My Shining Hour” is an apt description of Broom’s latest superlative release.
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