Brian Bromberg, Full Circle

by Jeff Becker

Brian Bromberg’s latest CD, Full Circle, is fittingly titled.  The long-time and well-received bass player has been virtually absent from the public for the past four years, due to a lengthy recovery from a back injury the required extensive physical therapy.  The long awaited return is over – and definitely worth the wait.   Full Circle features Bromberg  not only playing his trademark piccolo bass, but also in the drum seat, the instrument upon which he first cut his musical teeth.  Bromberg also takes the opportunity to finally play in a combo with his late father through the use of technology.  His father – a talented drummer on the East Coast scene who left the big time behind after World War II – never played with Brian during his lifetime, but by overdubbing a bass line onto an old acetate recording, Bromberg finally makes a long-time dream of his come true on two tracks.

Like all of his work, Bromberg’s latest features a stellar cast that includes trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, saxophonists Bob Sheppard, Kirk Whalum and Doug Webb, pianists Randy Waldman,Mitch Forman and Otmaro Ruiz, and percussionist Alex Acuña.

Bromberg is often grouped into the “smooth jazz sound”, despite lengthy time in the Stan Getz band in the past, The new CD is full of moments that move beyond any one genre, whether it is the Latin Jazz of “Havana Nights” (playfully subtitled “Havana Nagillah”), the straight-ahead sound of “Bernie’s Bop” or the funky cover of Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.” And as always, there is that piccolo bass, making Bromberg sound as if he were playing electric guitar with the best of them.

Summing up the crafting of this album, Bromberg states, “Full Circle has been incredibly important to me – more as a human being than as an artist; a cathartic experience. It became something life changing and much bigger than me. I don’t know what the ‘statement’ is – and it’s not like I’m trying to make one – it’s just honest and real. There’s a lot of expediency and determination in my notes – very simple music that’s not intense yet has intensity. There’s so much passion even the mellow tunes are played with emotional power.

On this happy note – I have to agree with my entire heart Mr. Bromberg. So glad to have you back in the saddle again.