Bobby Broom

Bobby Broom

Festival Schedule


8:30 PMGuitar Summit
Featuring: Russell Malone, Paul Bollenback, Bobby Broom
Session #3PerformanceRonnie Wells Main Stage
11:00 AMInterview
Featuring: Russell Malone and Bobby Broom
InterviewBilly Taylor Room


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 with Stand! (2001), a brilliant foray into the pop music he grew up hearing in the 1960s and ’70s. 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, which is what makes his new album My Shining Hour such an unexpected revelation. The luxuriantly melodic session features Broom’s working trio focusing on beloved American Songbook standards.

Born in Harlem on January 18, 1961 and raised on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Bobby Broom was still in his mid-teens when he started attracting the attention of veteran masters. Performing with teenage peers in Young, Gifted, and Broke, a musical by “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black” lyricist Weldon Irvine, Broom was surprised when guitarist Aurell Ray approached him as a possible replacement in Sonny Rollins’s band. He soon found himself in an hour-long rehearsal with bassist Bob Cranshaw, drummer Eddie Moore, and the tenor titan himself, who concluded the session by seeking to hire Broom for an upcoming tour.

Broom decided to finish high school instead, but Rollins was undaunted, promising to call when he returned to town, which is how the guitarist ended up making his Gotham debut at Carnegie Hall in 1977 with Rollins, Cranshaw, Moore, Ray, pianist Mike Nock, and trumpeter Donald Byrd.

Rollins called again in 1981 and took Broom on the road for six years. He rejoined Rollins in 2005 for another long stint, and can be heard on an array of his releases, from 1981’s No Problem and 1983’s Reel Life (both on Milestone) to 2006’s Sonny, Please and 2008’s and 2014’s Road Shows, vols. 1 and 3 (all on Doxy), plus the 2008 Doxy DVD Sonny Rollins in Vienne.

Part of a precociously talented cadre at Manhattan’s “Fame” High School of Music and Art that included Omar Hakim, Marcus Miller, and Bernard Wright, Broom spent his senior year sitting in with legendary bebop pianist Al Haig at Gregory’s. He was still a teenager when he sat in with Art Blakey at Mikell’s, and ended up declining the drummer’s offer to join the Jazz Messengers. Instead he joined up with trumpeter Tom Browne, with whom he started recording for GRP. Broom quickly became a staple at the label, recording with Dave Grusin, Dave Valentin, and Bernard Wright and cutting his first two albums as a leader, 1981’s Clean Sweep (GRP/Arista) and 1984’s Livin’ for the Beat (Arista).

Broom relocated to Chicago in the mid-1980s and was called to rededicate himself to straight-ahead jazz. He got an important boost when hollowbody patriarch Kenny Burrell recruited him and conceived of his Jazz Guitar Band in 1986, which led to two Blue Note recordings and international tours with the ensemble. He also toured and recorded with B3 master Charles Earland, tenor star Stanley Turrentine, trumpet legends Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis, and New Orleans pianoman Dr. John, a gig that lasted from 1994 to 1999.

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, starting with Stand! (Premonition). Recording for Origin since 2007’s Song and Dance, Broom has gone from strength to strength, releasing the sizzling live session The Way I Play in 2008, the enthralling Bobby Broom Plays for Monk in 2009, and 2012’s collection of inviting original tunes Upper West Side Story.

A dedicated educator, Broom earned a B.A. in music from Columbia College and an M.A. in jazz pedagogy from Northwestern University. He has taught at the University of Hartford, the American Conservatory of Music, Roosevelt University, and DePaul University. In recent years he’s worked with a jazz mentoring program sponsored by the Ravinia Festival Organization, teaching music students in public high schools throughout Chicago.

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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