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Event Review: Bobby Broom Trio
Martyrs', Chicago, IL
By Shawna Vacca, St@tic
(more articles from this author)
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It was on one of those bitter cold, blustery Chicago nights that I made my way to Martyrs', a very comfortable, spacious, non-flashy venue, to see renowned jazz guitarist Bobby Broom with his band, the Bobby Broom Trio. Broom, a native New Yorker and one-time child prodigy, has played with the likes of Sonny Rollins and Miles Davis. My high hopes for an absorbing evening of musical abandon were not dashed. Experiencing Bobby Broom's improvisational jazz guitar is a spiritual experience that vacillates between meditative and intoxicating.

After extensive sound checks and adjustments, the trio unceremoniously broke into a jammy version of Broom's "No Hype Blues." Under the orange light, every player thrusted energy into the still-sparse room. Although it seemed that the weather was going to prevent a good turnout, it was only a matter of time before seats filled.

The sets were a diverse bouquet of classics, original compositions, nostalgic theme songs, and tunes from their latest release, Stand!, which are improvisational remakes of famous 60's and 70's pop songs. "The Little Rascals Theme," Simon & Garfunkel's "El Condor Pasa" (featured on Stand!) and "All the Things You Are" completed the first set. Every song was a medium for spontaneous yet disciplined improvisations, ranging from a dialogue between bass and drums to stellar drum and guitar solos.

Broom curls over his guitar, resembling a Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder in the way he extends his instrument, visually underscoring its cries. He feels, embodies, everything pouring out. "The Little Rascals Theme" and "El Condor" showcased his style for soaring, far-reaching solos. He addresses each note individually. They are our hooks into his focus and he doesn't release us until he's joined the melody again. "All the Things You Are" demonstrated the full range of the band. It opened with a string duet and later included a harder-beating drum and bass duet. Dana Hall is a fantastic, exciting drummer and bassist Dennis Carroll steadily supports the beat.

The second set consisted of Cole Porters' "Just One of Those Things," Broom's own "Minor Major Mishap" and Coltrane's "Countdown." The Bobby Broom Trio plays with intense bluesy tones, swingy beats, and with the innovative, soulful thought of Broom's jazz guitar.

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