Jazz bassist’s new album is a personal one
By David Sands
March 29, 2016
Creating the new album, Full Circle, his first since 2012, has been a deeply meaningful experience for Brian Bromberg.
For one, the acclaimed bassist and composer had to recover from a traumatic accident that left his back broken in two places to even record it. In fact, the prolific jazz musician had reason to believe he might never record again, but after extensive rehabilitation he was able to stand, walk and eventually get back to grooving with his bass.
The other reason Full Circle is such a personal album is that it’s guided by the spirit of his late father, Howard, formerly a sought-after jazz drummer in Bromberg’s hometown of Tucson, Arizona.
While Bromberg often gravitates towards smooth jazz, this one—with his father’s memory serving as an inspiration—leans heavily towards traditional acoustic side of the genre. That said, the album still covers a lot of musical territory, including New Orleans funk, zydeco, Cuban bebop and a jazz cover of Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.”
Bromberg handles the rhythm section on Full Circle himself, laying down the tracks for bass and drums, as well as a “guitar” sound that’s actually him playing a piccolo bass.
Filling out the album is a talented crew of musicians that includes trumpeter Arturo Sandoval; saxophonists Bob Sheppard, Kirk Whalum and Doug Webb; pianists Randy Waldman, Mitch Forman and Otmaro Ruíz; and percussionist Alex Acuña.
The album opens and closes with the songs “Jazz Me Blues” and “Washington and Lee Swing” which were originally recorded by Bromberg’s father and friends on a one-off acetate record. Through the magic of modern technology, Bromberg copied the disc with a USB turntable, cleaned it up and remixed it to allow him to play with his father’s quintet.
“A few really amazing things happened to me when I was recording those tracks with my father,” Bromberg says in a release, “those tracks originally were recorded before I was born, so it was such a trip playing with my Dad before I was even on this planet!”
“When I was playing with him I realized at that moment where I got my time feel and swing from, it was effortless to play with him, mind-blowing actually,” he adds. “I guess the experience that inspired the whole concept of this album was feeling his time feel and swing inspired me to start playing drums again, because it felt so good.”
Other highlights include the title track “Full Circle,” which he wrote in a session playing for trumpeter Till Brönner; “Nawlins!,” a zydeco track that features Kirk Whalum; and “Havana Nights (aka Havana Nagila),” which he jokes must be one of the few Cuban jazz tunes ever written by a Jewish guy.
Coming out of his recovery from a life-altering injury and his meditations on his father’s legacy, Bromberg believes Full Circle may be “the most important record” of his career. Although it’s something of a changeup from his smooth jazz endeavors, the bassist is optimistic his fans will come along for the ride.
“This album is just a swinging, in-your-face traditional jazz album with simple tunes that are easy to sing along with and remember, but have a foundation in hardcore ‘real’ jazz.” he says. “I hope people enjoy this album for what it is and what it means to me vs. judging it for what it’s not.”
1. Jazz Me Blues
2. Full Circle
3. Sneaky Pete
4. Saturday Night in The Village
6. Havana Nights
7. Bernie’s Bob
8. Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough
10. Susumu’s Blues
11. Washington and Lee Swing
Title: Full Circle
Artist: Brian Bromberg
Release Date: March 25, 2016
Label: Artistry Music/Mack Avenue
Full Circle is available here:
Brian Bromberg talks Bass on the Broadband
FBPO interview with Brian Bromberg
Brian Bromberg has also endorsed the following Jon Liebman bass books:
Bass Grooves: The Ultimate Collection