Review for Thicker Than Water in Bass Musician Magazine by Raul Amador.
It has been a while since I have had a chance to write an album review, but when I got Brian Bromberg’s “Thicker Than Water” I was motivated on the spot… and here I am writing.
Every time I have listened to Brian’s bass playing in the past, I have been blown away, this time even more so. This CD has a lot going for it, but the Funk simply made my upper lip curl while I listened. Check out this first track, “Is That the Best You Can Do?”
Brian brought out no less than eleven basses to record this CD.
He handpicked each one for the specific voice he wanted to have on each song. Rapid fire slapping, clear and precise solo licks and a very prominent bass presence in the mix are just some of the qualities I enjoyed the most. I did notice that there were no guitars used in this project but they were not missed, as the piccolo bass did that job perfectly!
Even though there are a few tracks with Brian by himself on either electric or upright, I must applaud his choices in supporting musicians for this project, as they are excellent!
Tight horns, sweet sexy sax work, energetic percussion, precise and supportive keys and masterful writing & arrangements really bring this album to life. It is superb music for bass fans and the general public as well.
“Thicker Than Water” is a must hear! You get thirteen tracks of musical excellence and it is a recording that I am eager to share with my friends and family, perhaps over a cold glass of Vino Verde!
Review in Elmore Magazine by Peter Lindblad
It’s all about the bass for Brian Bromberg. In the making of his latest album Thicker Than Water, Bromberg—ever the innovator, who once served in jazz great Stan Getz’s backing band as a teenager—unlocks the instrument’s unlimited potential to shape a vast array of sounds not normally attributed to it. Bromberg’s sleight of hand is remarkable.
Usually, Bromberg’s weapon of choice is upright bass, but there are 11 different kinds of bass, including electric and fretless specimens, employed on Thicker Than Water, a sophisticated mix of instrumentals trafficking in horn-filled smooth jazz and hot funk that sizzles in the exuberant “Minneapolis, 1987.” Whereas that homage to Prince, Morris Day, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis confidently steps forward with tight, infectious grooves, the similarly cast “Uh-Huh” – featuring the sharp trumpet forays of Randy Brecker and the keyboard magic of the late George Duke in one of his last performances – is silkier and sleek in the style of George Benson.
Cool and fluid, “Changes” moves to the graceful whims of Bromberg’s steel string piccolo bass, one of five versions of the instrument he plays on the song. Elegant and nocturnal, “Thicker Than Water” and the tender mélange of piano and strings that is “Your Eyes” are just as free-flowing, changing moods and tones with ease, while “Land of the Rising Sun” utilizes bamboo flutes and the koto strings of Hiroshima’s June Kuramoto to paint a misty, beautiful Japanese soundscape. Bromberg lets his imagination go wild on Thicker Than Water.
Detailed sonic artistry and superior technical chops are the order of the day, as brief eruptions of spastic, fiery solos by Bromberg shoot off like big bursts of fireworks. He often goes off on quicksilver runs that boggle the mind, although “Trials and Tribulations” is deliciously slow and heavy, creating heightened drama. Maybe it all seems a little self-indulgent, but there is enough interesting ensemble work here to almost completely erase such thoughts.
"Thicker Than Water" revue by the The Staccatofy Team at www.staccato.com
Acoustic and electric bassist musician extraordinaire Brian Bromberg is back and playing funkier than ever. Bromberg’s sounds are diverse and always in the pocket and with his album titled Thicker Than Water, the bassist is again displaying his tremendous talent on both electric and acoustic bass. On this project Bromberg explores the electric bass and its possibilities. He used eleven different electric basses to get all the sounds he heard in the music. Bromberg’s fluidity in single lines, slapping and popping and chords on the electric bass are everywhere on Thicker Than Water. Combine that with an outstanding cast of musicians and excellent compositions and you have an amazing project. Thicker Than Water is full of guest appearances including: trumpeter Randy Brecker and saxophonists Marion Meadows, Najee, Everette Harp, Brandon Fields, and Gary Meek. It also features one of the final performances by the late, great keyboardist George Duke. The thirteen tracks run through many styles – smooth grooves to beautiful ballads, from fusion to all out funk, but no matter the style, Bromberg’s gift for rhythm and melody is a joy to hear. That’s the short of it!
Thicker Than Water finds Brian Bromberg redefining our preconceived concepts of what the role of the bass should be in a band. Most jazz fans are already familiar with Bromberg’s unique skills and sound on the acoustic bass, but now with Thicker Than Water, Bromberg again tears down preconceived notions of what an electric bass can do and its role within an ensemble. The vibe and pocket is diverse on each track and the bass plays the dominate role throughout the album. The bass is used as a supporting instrument, with solid funky grooves that slap and pop in the pocket, and as a solo instrument, with blistering bass solos that incorporates multiple right-hand and left-hand techniques to create stunning musicals shapes. The compositions are inventive, and the ensemble hits solid with wonderful guest artist rounding out the date. This is seriously fun music that grooves.
Review in midwestrecord.com
BRIAN BROMBERG/Thicker Than Water: The vet bass ace makes the smooth jazz set he's be wanting to make for years and he rounds up the old gang to keep the sound and vibe authentic. A set that does exactly what it sets out to do without pretension, the only flourish here is Bromberg playing a different bass on almost every track because they all say something different to him. Other than that, this set might take you back to the day but it doesn't leave you there. Snazzy stuff throughout by the A team.
Review from Hans-Bernd Hülsmann from smooth-jazz.de
With the top bassist Brian Bromberg you never know exactly in which direction his next work will tend. Whether smooth jazz, rock fusion, Bossa nova or contemporary jazz, one thing is certain in any case: Brian Bromberg stands for outstanding quality. His new album Thicker Than Water (2018) makes it easy to love.
The album features Najee, Everette Harp, Gary Meek, Brandon Fields (tenor sax), George Duke (electric piano), Randy Brecker (trumpet), Paul Jackson Jr. (rhythm guitar), Brian Simpson (keyboards), Marion Meadows (soprano sax), and many more illustrious artists.
The album starts with the provocative title Is That the Best You Can Do? When Brian stretches over the bass strings of his Kiesel B2 4 and B2 5 bass guitars the impression of a virtuoso bass solo album is condensed, but then evaporates due to the strong use of wind instruments performed by Lee Thornburg (trumpet), Doug Webb (saxes) and Nick Lane (trombone). You can be assured Brian engaged the best musicians for the best recordings, no matter the cost answering the initial question with an astounding Yes.
Minneapolis, 1987 is Brian's homage to the sound of twin cities' music scene with icons like Prince, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis or Morris Day. The term Thicker Than Water is often used in connection with blood and means nothing else than the relationship aspects are the deciding factor in the choice. In concrete Zach Bromberg is Brian's nephew and the groove master and author of the tune.
The Coupe De Ville is the classic Cadillac car that has been part or main subject of many music films. The musical realization emphasizes the luxurious full-volume design, whereby Brian takes over the guitar part with his piccolo bass. In the horn arrangement, in which Najee plays the leading role, are musical echoes of James Bond films.
With Changes Brian switches the style to a more melodic representation with romantic touches. The piccolo bass again takes on the function of the melody carrier. On Trials and Tribulations the horn section is enhanced by the string section of The Rising Sun Orchestra. It is obvious that the song will be the most powerful of the whole album. Brian brings the electric bass to life which gives the song a strong rocking flavor. Goose bumps alarm!
The strings of Brian's upright bass swing in a warm tone introducing to It's Called Life. A song Brian has dedicated to his mom who died before Brian has completed this song with a high emotional character. On Uh-Huh Brian unites Randy Brecker and George Duke in a funky team with pronounced jazzy tendencies.
On Your Eyes Brian brings soprano saxophonist Marion Meadows on board, which together with the String Orchestra promises an excursion to shallow shores. Land of the Rising Sun is a popular Western name for Japan. The Asian character of this song is effectually emphasized by June Kuramoto of the group Hiroshima on koto, a 13-string zither or harp like instrument, and Mark Hollingsworth on the bamboo flute.
The final hymn A Familia presents Brian again on upright bass, the instrument that best reflects Brian's playful talent with its enormous range of expression.
Brian Bromberg opens with his new album Thicker Than Water the attentive listener the artistic field of bass in a comprehensive spectrum in which it is rarely heard. With his pronounced tendency to melodious themes, it is easy to follow his guiding principle.
Review in All About Jazz.com by Chris Mosey
Brian Bromberg specializes in smooth jazz. That's music with rough edges removed. He plays it on basses, upright and electric, and on piccolo basses which are tuned to sound like guitars.
It's all fiendishly clever but Bromberg remains modest. He uses a whole side of the album's cover to thank everyone, including God, "for trusting me with the gifts that you have given me."
He's had his ups and downs. In 1979, when he was just 19, Bromberg toured with Stan Getz, then went on to release a series of solo albums, including Wood, used all over the world to demonstrate high quality stereo equipment, and Downright Upright, which was nominated for a Grammy.
Then two years ago an accident resulted in him breaking his back in two places with severe trauma. He made an amazing recovery, celebrated here with what he describes as "high energy, funky, in-your-face, original music ensconced in memorable melodies, infectious grooves, and deep pocket." George Duke, Randy Brecker, Brandon Fields, and Gary Meek helped in its creation.
There's actually a reflective, almost melancholy feel to many of the tracks, with Bromberg paying homage to the blue-eyed soul sounds of his youth. Most are based on funky, repetitive bass riffs, kicking off with "Is That The Best You Can Do?" and "Minneapolis 1987." The title track is looser, more jazzy.
"Coupe De Ville" builds slowly before settling on a bass riff, followed by a tenor solo from Najee, which keeps the proceedings very much on the smooth side of soul.
"Trials and Tribulations" sees Bromberg in thoughtful mood but with some very fast piccolo bass work (sounding like guitar). "Uh-Huh" shows off his orchestrating skills with a cast that includes George Duke playing one of his last gigs.
"Your Eyes" is a lovely, relaxed ballad and is followed by "Land Of The Rising Sun," Bromberg's take on Japan. This comes as a welcome surprise after all the bass riffing, featuring Mark Hollingsworth on bamboo flutes and June Kuramoto, from the band Hiroshima, on koto.
To close, Bromberg reverts to upright bass for "A Familia," keeping it short and sweet, which is how upright bass solos should be.
Track Listing: Is That The Best You Can Do?; Minneapolis, 1987; Thicker Than Water; Coupe De Ville (Intro); Coupe De Ville; Changes; Trials And Tribulations; It’s Called Life (Intro); It’s Called Life (For Mom); Uh-Huh; Your Eyes; Land Of The Rising Sun; A Familia.
Personnel: Brian Bromberg: upright, electric and piccolo bass; Everette Harp, Najee, Doug Webb, Brandon Fields, Gary Meek, Mark Visher, Vince Trombetta, Marion Meadows: saxophone; Lee Thornburg, Randy Brecker, Willy Murillo, Tony Guererro: trumpet; Nick Lane, Jason Thor: trombone; Tom Zink, Brian Simpson, George Duke: keyboards; Gannin Arnold, Paul Jackson Jr.: guitar; June Kuramoto: koto; Franklin Richardson III: drums; Lenny Castro, Alex Acuna: percussion; Mark Hollingsworth: bamboo flutes; Zack Bromberg: loops
"Thicker Than Water" review smoothjazzmag.com by Carl Wayne Wesley
Review of Thicker Than Water from Sounds of Timeless Jazz by Paula Edelstein
Bass virtuoso Brian Bromberg offers his latest Artistry Music recording titled Thicker Than Water and it’s a keeper. The 13 tracks reveal outstanding performances by Brian on 11 different bass instruments alongside such revered musicians as trumpeter Randy Brecker, saxophonists Marion Meadows, Najee, Everette Harp, Brandon Fields and Gary Meek. The recording also features one of the last performances from the late George Duke.
The opening track features powerful energy from saxophonist Everette Harp. Titled “Is That the Best You Can Do?”, Brian Bromberg and company all display their technical mastery and amazing interplay. that is focused like a fine-point laser. “Minneapolis 1987” is a funky jam that lets its heart beat next to yours in awe of such great Minneapolis musicians as Prince, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and others. Rock with it.
Hotter than a fantasy, the title track comes from the bond that Bromberg shares with the album’s resident beat maker, his nephew Zach Bromberg. The grooves are on fire and inspired Brian to write songs around those grooves that work in the instrumental world of contemporary jazz. Breezy handclaps and a percussive pulse provided by Lenny Castro keep the mid-tempo tune in the pocket. Zach also contributes a vibe for “Changes,” a soothing stroll carried by Bromberg’s steel string piccolo bass. He plays no less than five completely different basses on the track.
Overall, Thicker Than Water is extraordinary and has Brian Bromberg on fire! His songwriting, arrangements, performances on 11 different basses, production values and guest artists make this recording a true masterpiece. Two hands, one heart is a fitting description of how these songs are played by Bromberg and why it deserves to be in your collection. Buy it today
Press release from DL Media about "Thicker Than Water."
Bass Virtuoso Brian Bromberg, Utilizing 11 Unique Basses, creates a Funkified Time Machine on Thicker Than Water
Available July 13 on Artistry Music.
“Thicker Than Water is a record I’ve been wanting to make for a very long time,” says the dynamic bass virtuoso Brian Bromberg. “I love the upright bass. It’s where my heart and soul is. My connection with that instrument is unlike anything in my life. I also love the electric bass and really wanted to explore its endless possibilities on this project” That love of the bass is evident across the wide-range of irresistible grooves found on Thicker Than Water, available July 13 on Artistry Music.
Across 13 tracks, Bromberg utilizes 11 different basses to create an orchestra of unique tones and rapid-fire runs. Helping Bromberg wield the groove are trumpeter Randy Brecker, saxophonists Marion Meadows, Najee, Everette Harp, Brandon Fields and Gary Meek, as well as one of the last performances from the late keyboard master George Duke.
Punchy brass and powerful energy from saxophonist Everette Harp ensure that everybody is going to have a good time on the album opener “Is That the Best You Can Do?”. Bromberg immediately displays a technical mastery that is focused like a fine-point laser. “Minneapolis 1987” is a funkified time machine cleansed by the waters of Lake Minnetonka. “Take your pick. It could be Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Prince. It could be Larry Graham. It could be Morris Day. Pick one or all,” says Bromberg. “It’s all a vibe and a sound. Minneapolis absolutely had a sound. Look at the talent that came out of there. You hear the first eight bars and you are done. It says everything.”
The title track comes from the bond that Bromberg shares with the album’s resident beatmaker, his nephew Zach Bromberg. “He’s a computer guy,” says Bromberg. “He writes loops and on this CD he came up with some grooves that are badass which inspired me to write songs around those grooves that work in the instrumental world of contemporary jazz.” Breezy handclaps and a percussive pulse provided by Lenny Castro keep the mid-tempo tune in the pocket. Zach also contributes a vibe for “Changes,” a soothing stroll carried by Bromberg’s steel string piccolo bass. He plays no less than five completely different basses on the track “It’s not for the sake of playing a lot of basses,” explains Bromberg. “It’s not for credit or how many notes I’m going to play. What’s going to work for the music? Because the music dictates what I’m going to play and the end result is all about the music. The music always wins! It’s rewarding to be able to use all these instruments to express what I’m feeling inside.
“Coupe de Ville” also addresses the feelings on the outside. “Sometimes songs just show up in my head,” says Bromberg. “This one just showed up and the name popped into my head immediately. We’re just cruising here in a big Cadillac.” Tenor saxophonist Najee and rhythm guitar work from Paul Jackson, Jr.takes the tune into the stratosphere with ebullient brass encouraging fleet-fingered runs from Bromberg.
The slow groove of “Trials and Tribulations” gives Bromberg ample space to highlight his electric bass talents. “This is the most powerful song on the CD. It’s the epic. I’m really proud of it. It’s so cool to have strings and horns together on the same song.” The large ensemble is in sync with Bromberg’s outrageously funky fills while the song “Your Eyes,” which Bromberg wrote as a homage for his cat, cruises with sensitive strings and Bromberg’s piano debut. “I play the melody and a little solo. I’m not a piano player. I have no chops but for a solo ballad with one note at a time I can do it.”
“That one is for my mom,” says Bromberg about the sweetly personal “It’s Called Life.” “The tune showed up in my head. Sadly, she passed away before she got to hear it, but this is one of those songs that really has emotional calories.” The ballad’s gospel swing is amplified by Brandon Fields’ rich tenor saxophone who works in tandem with Bromberg’s piccolo bass, gelling easily into a natural partnership.
Bromberg calls in the big guns for “Uh-Huh,” a fiery funk number that features trumpeter Randy Breckerand one of keyboardist George Duke’s last performances. The tune rises to the prestige of the performers with a big band heft and a finger-popping beat.
“Land of the Rising Sun” is Bromberg’s homage to Japan. With help from June Kuramoto of the band Hiroshima on koto, the ensemble embarks on a languid tour of the island nation.
“When I write songs, especially if they have a vibe of a specific culture, I just want the sound to sound as much like the culture as possible,” says Bromberg. “It’s very rewarding to hear something in my head. Until it’s finished you don’t know if you did a good job or not but when you hear this, first thing you think of is Japan.”
“I started on upright. I was a purist jazz guy,” Bromberg proudly explains but when he got electrified, his palette expanded beyond his wildest imagination. He returns to those early experimentations by closing out the album with a solo soulful hymn entitled “A Familia.”
Recorded comfortably at his home studio in Southern California, Bromberg surrounded himself with musicians he trusts to record an album that resonates with personality and personability. Bromberg’s virtuoso skills are in service to the groove and each track moves with a refreshingly funky honesty.
“I hope people listen to it with open mind and open heart,” says Bromberg. “A lot of people familiar with me may not be expecting a record that grooves this hard. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised by the vibe and the pocket. Some people think the bass should sound like it did in 1965. Thump, thump, thump. But, hey, that’s not for everyone.”
Brian Bromberg · Thicker Than Water
Artistry Music · Release Date: July 13, 2018
I am so excited to announce the upcoming release of my new CD Thicker Than Water (coming out July 13, 2018) This new CD is a high energy, funky, in your face project unlike any recording I have ever done before, at least not as a whole project. This is a CD that I have been wanting to record for many years, so I am thrilled to have recorded it and for Mack Avenue/Artistry Music will be releasing it! Thicker Than Water is is all original music (No Covers) totally ensconced in infectious grooves, deep pocket, and memorable melodies. A powerful real horn section rounds out a truly fun and positive energy listening experience. Thicker Than Water features artists the likes of:
Paul Jackson Jr.
June Kuramoto-from the legendary band Hiroshima
Franklin Richardson III