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Welcome to the Guitar Lessons Pro Articles.


Review of Brian Bromberg's "Wood" (A440 Music Group)

By Philip Booth


Brian Bromberg is one of just a few contemporary bassists, along with John Patitucci, Stanley Clarke, Avery Sharpe and a few others, capable of a high level of virtuosity on both the acoustic instrument and its younger electric cousin. For "Wood," an appealingly programmed collection of standards and other compositions, he sticks to the kind of bass carved from Mother Nature, the same 300-year-old Italian instrument he used as a teenage sideman with Stan Getz.

The result: Brombergís mastery of the instrument, and his capabilities as a creative musical communicator, have never been better demonstrated. The album, a refreshing contrast with 1997ís gratuitously smooth "You Know That Feeling," offers proof positive of his technical brilliance with four dazzling solo pieces: He slides, taps, slaps, chords and grinds his way through deep-grooving takes on the Beatlesí "Come Together," Eddie Harrisís "Freedom Jazz Dance," Milesí "All Blues" and "Star-Spangled Banner" (the last was recorded before 9/11, by the way).

Brombergís sound is beautifully resonant, his timing impeccable, his articulation clean and clear, and his intonation superb. And he puts those skills to work in the service of material that is about more than mere chopsmanship. "Goodbye (for my father)," his sole original composition and one of two duos with pianist Randy Waldman, is a melancholy ballad that allows the bassist to showcase his abilities as a melodic soloist. He shimmers, too, on the other duo track, "The Days of Wine and Roses."

The bassistís older brother, drummer David Bromberg, makes it a trio elsewhere, and the three have their way with an eclectic set of tunes, including a floaty Steve Kuhn waltz, "The Saga of Harrison Crabfeathers"; an expansive take on Herbie Hancockís "Dolphin Dance," featuring a sterling solo from Waldman; a bright, hard-swinging version of Kurt Weillís "Speak Low"; and inspired readings of Cole Porterís "I Love You," and Monkís "Straight No Chaser." Call it the double bass album of the year...so far.

-- Philip Booth

(This review originally was published in Down Beat magazine)

Philip Booth, a musician and journalist based in Tampa, FL, writes about music and film for the St. Petersburg Times, Down Beat, Jazziz, Billboard, CMJ New Music Monthly, Miami New Times and other publications. He may be contacted at

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