"Brian Bromberg" is an expansive contemporary jazz collection graced with performances by Jeff Lorber, Lee Ritenour, Kirk Whalum and Toots Thielemans, anchored by Bromberg's bass, which vacillates between deep rhythmic grooves and gentle, beautiful and emotive melodies
My CD "Choices," is a recording made up of music that has been in my mind and heart for a long time. Most of the music on "Choices" was written from life experiences. I look at a CD as a book of short stories. Each song is a different story with a common theme of the artists voice. I wanted to tell many different kinds of stories with this collection of music, using vastly different types of songs and styles; from funky grooves like "Never Give Up", "Bass Face" and "B²," all the way to true human experiences like the Columbine High School tragedy in the song "Why?," and the song "Hear Our Cry," which is my story of a fight for freedom and a tribute to the indigenous people of Africa.
The one thing I can tell you about this CD, is that it is a big picture CD, not just a CD about bass playing. All of the guitar sounding parts were played on basses tuned to the register of a guitar, and truly uses the bass in many different ways showing the versatility of the modern bass, and allowing the player to be more melodic and tell those stories that we all have inside us. I hope you enjoy "Choices" as much as I enjoyed recording it...
Once a drummer following the footsteps of his brother and father, a cellist until convinced to take up the bass during junior high orchestra practice, Brian Bromberg has become one of the most well-respected virtuoso bass players in jazz, thanks to his A-list studio and touring status as sideman, producer and leader of such diverse stylistic range. This year marks the American release of Downright Upright, a compelling addition to his acclaimed and popular catalog that he expects will please both the casual smooth jazz fans and the jazz purists.
Already released in Japan, Downright Upright is a return to the acoustic upright bass Bromberg recently spent time with on 2006’s Wood II. But this record represents a unique progression from that lauded cd, which was laced with Bromberg’s innocent humor and embellished with solo Paul McCartney and Earth, Wind and Fire covers. Far less intimate than Wood II, Downright Upright abandons the traditional trio format and takes on new collaborative touches, including those from pianists George Duke and Jeff Lorber, trumpeter Rick Braun, saxophonists Gary Meek, Boney James, and Kirk Whalum, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, and perhaps most noticeably, guitarists Gannin Arnold and Lee Ritenour. Having contributed to Rit’s recent album Smoke ‘N Mirrors, Brian just returned from live dates with the legendary guitarist. Ritenour’s contribution to Downright Upright underscores their complimentary, collaborative simpatico.
Downright Upright kicks off with a highly updated take on Herbie Hancock’s 1964 hit “ Cantaloupe Island,” immediately setting the tone for what is to come. The tune is a prime choice for Bromberg, who deems Hancock the “remarkable man” who “made me realize why I wanted to be a jazz musician in the first place.” Hancock’s version had been heavy on percussion, with clearly defined beats and a boxy rhythm made possible through its piano/drum collaboration. It was an obvious predecessor to funk and hip-hop, its beat tying the music together, the sonic palette just sparse enough to leave room for improvisation at any point. Bromberg fills this space with an arrangement that spins the classic in the opposite direction – he has created an entirely new “ Cantaloupe Island,” with a clean, full sound -- adding the element of a guitar as well as prolonged solos that allow each instrumentalist to stand out as a virtuoso.
Additionally, Downright Upright sees covers of Hancock’s “Chameleon” and Eddie Harris’ “Cold Duck Time,” complementing a unique lineup of ten tracks that are among Bromberg’s most accessible and mature work. Unlike previous albums that provided well-lit stages to highlight Bromberg’s solos, Downright Upright is a more modest endeavor that gives equal time to nearly every performer. There are certainly moments here that showcase Bromberg’s immense technique on his 300-year old upright, but rather than garner the spotlight for the length of an entire track, the bass shines through the fulfilling group sound and all-star solo contributions. Such is the case with “Leisure Suit,” whose bass solo enters with only two minutes to spare in the (nearly eight-minute) track. Overall, Downright Upright follows this method, carrying less of the stripped-down, romantic appeal and playful humor of earlier work, instead focusing on the compositional flash and musical balance this time around.
Years from now, the leader will reflect on Downright Upright proudly as another sparkling facet in his illustrious musical career. The bassist sees his musical evolution taking place alongside that of his own life. In his particular case, art imitates life, and both have seen a number of exciting transitions.
Brian says that this may be "the most important record of my career" and features a stellar cast that includes trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, saxophonists Bob Sheppard, Kirk Whalum and Doug Webb, pianists Randy Waldman, Mitch Foreman and Otmaro Ruiz, and percussionist Alex Acuña. Full Circle opens and closes with two tracks on which Brian accompanies his Dad. These tracks were originally recorded by the senior Bromberg before Brian was born. "It was such a trip playing with my Dad before I was even on this planet!" recollects Brian. Feeling that time feel of his fathers drumming inspired Brian to start playing the drums again. Brian started his musical journey as a drummer before he found the bass as a teenager. Full Circle is his USA debut recording as a drummer as well as a bassist! 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."
About this recording:
I just wanted to share some thoughts with you about this project and how it was recorded.
First I would like to say that never in my life did I ever think that I would be doing a solo bass CD. This was another vision of Susumu Morikawa from King Records in Japan.
Just the thought of doing a solo bass recording where I am the only instrument playing for the whole length of the CD was quite an undertaking. Every note you play is under a microscope and totally exposed. You can't hide in any way because all of the focus is on you for the entire length of the recording.
At first I was quite intimidated by the scope of this project, very scary indeed! But, once I started playing and getting into the freedom playing solo with no arrangements or other musicians to be mindful of I found the process to be very rewarding and quite liberating, as well as extremely challenging.
Since this CD was so unique in nature I wanted to do it in a different environment and have a whole new recording experience.
A friend of mine owns a fantastic recording studio on a ranch about an hour from Los Angeles. It is in the mountains and quite beautiful. He raises horses so there is a lot of grass and open space. He even has California Redwood trees towering above as well!
I found this environment to be very inspiring and creative. It is very rare to be looking out the window of a recording studio and see horses running and playing right outside, breathtaking!
Because I was the only musician playing on the CD I wanted to do the engineering myself. That way I could record at any time of day or night when I felt inspired to play. Tom McCauley the engineer that I have been working with for many years came out to the studio to get the microphone's placed and positioned properly as well as getting my remote set up working for me to be able to record myself.
On this recording we only needed to record one instrument, my acoustic bass. That gave us a unique opportunity to try some new technology and to try and capture the sound of my bass like never before.
I worked with my good friend Robby Scharf from Sennheiser Electronics. They also own Neumann microphones. Neumann has developed state of the art digital microphones that do not use any analog signal path from the mic to the recording medium. No mic pre-amps and no EQ, just straight into Pro Tools into the computer. I used two Neumann KMD 184's for the stereo mics and one TLM 103D for the center mono mic to fill out the middle. I did not use any bass pick up or direct signal. I did the recording at 24 bit-96kHz bandwidth.
Since there was no analog signal path at all this recording is completely silent. There is no noise from any outside equipment or analog gear. In fact the recording is so accurate that you can even hear when I move around when I am playing. If you listen closely you can actually hear the bass sound move around between the speakers as my body moves. It is pretty amazing how detailed this recording is.
Eddy Schreyer from Oasis Mastering mastered this CD digitally so it truly is a 100% digital recording from beginning to end.
There are two things that I wanted to do on this CD where the music was concerned. One was to pick songs from many different genre's of music that were fun to play and worked well on the bass as the lead instrument, the other thing that I wanted to do which is what I do on all of my recordings is to not work parts out in advance of the recording. I love the spontaneity of just going for it when you hit the record button. I love to improvise and just go wherever the music takes me.
When I recorded this CD I recorded nineteen songs over the length of the project. Of the Nineteen songs there were only two songs that I knew wanted to do in advance of this recording. The remaining seventeen songs that I recorded I picked while I was recording this CD and in the studio. I really wanted the spirit and vibe of this project to be as live and unrehearsed as possible. There are also no overdubs on this recording, just live bass playing in the studio. I would hit the record button and would just play.
I played until I either made a mistake or wanted to just go in a different direction then what I was playing. At that point I would just punch myself in record and fix my mistakes and just kept on playing.
Sometimes I would completely loose track of where I was in the song because it was just me playing with no other musical support from any other instrument. Since I totally improvised and just went for it I would often end up someplace musically that I never would imagine that I would go. It is total freedom musically.
I had an amazing time recording this CD and I must admit it was a truly rewarding experience and one I will never forget.
Thank you again and I hope you enjoy listening to “Hands” as much as I enjoyed recording it!................Brian Bromberg
A heartfelt tribute to the amazing Antonio Carlos Jobim. Half Jobim Classics cleverly rearranged by Brian mixed in with the other half of Bromberg's originals in the Jobim/Brazilian genre. Joined by fantastic musicians as well as a full string orchestra. This CD is a glowing showcase for Bromberg's nylon string piccolo bass whitch you would swear was a classical nylon string guitar! A very positive, uplifting, and just feel good project!
Grammy®-nominated bassist and producer Brian Bromberg is one of the most versatile and respected players in both straight ahead and contemporary jazz. Backed by a killer horn section, Bromberg gets loose and funky throughout the 13 tracks on It Is What It is, including his unique spin on the B52's dance classic "Love Shack." Brian is joined by another A-List of musicians including: George Duke, Patrice Rushen, Jeff Lorber, Randy Brecker, Eric Marienthal, Gerald Albright, Richard Elliot, Rick Braun, Will Kennedy, Dave Weckl, Alex Acuña, Paul Jackson Jr., Dan Siegel and more! A consistent 5 star CD!
Brian Bromberg “ IT'S ABOUT TIME, the ACOUSTIC PROJECT” This CD was Brian's first straight-ahead, all acoustic jazz project origanlly released in 1990. This disc features Freddie Hubbard, Ernie Watts and many other world class musicians in a very high energy, mainstream jazz setting, and is completely re-mixed and re-mastered!
Here is some information and excerpts from the booklet of my tribute CD "JACO" to the late great Jaco Pastorius.
The liner notes were written by the very well respected writer Bill Milkowski. Bill wrote the powerful biography on Jaco Pastorius. If you haven't read it, the book gives you great insight into the life of Jaco, his brilliance and his tragedy. Bill covers the CD song by song and gives a detailed description of what the music and arrangements.
I have posted a letter that I wrote to Jaco personally that shares my feelings on the impact that his playing and music meant in my life. I'm sure all of you that have listened to him over the years were just as amazed by his genius as I. Musicians of that brilliance come around only once in a generation, he truly was enlightened. To me, to this day, no one has had that kind of impact on their instrument then Jaco did over twenty-five years ago.
The CD cover: When we scheduled the release of the Jaco tribute CD in America, it was important to me and the record label that this CD had great visibility and would be set apart from all my other recordings. I'm fortunate in the fact that the president of the A440 Music Group Label also happens to be a bass player and is Jaco fan as well. I wanted to have a CD cover that from the first time you saw it you instantly knew what this recording was about, especially since I have made so many different types of records in my career. If you remember Jaco's first solo record cover, you would know just by looking at my CD cover that this project is all about Jaco and his music. I knew that most musicians and bass players throughout the world would instantly recognize what I feel is one of the most visual and identifiable record cover's of all time. I wanted the CD cover to take you back to that time in your life when you heard Jaco's record for the first time -- what that meant to you -- what that meant to all of us! It was important that the Jaco tribute cover was as much a tribute as the music itself. To me, that's the best way to honor him. He truly changed the world of bass playing, and in just being himself, he changed us all ........FOREVER
Brian Bromberg's letter to Jaco from the CD booklet:
A FINAL THANK YOU TO JACO PASTORIUS: JACO, FROM THE VERY FIRST TIME I HEARD YOUR FIRST RECORD, WHEN I WAS A TEENAGER, YOU ABSOLUTLY BLEW ME AWAY. I WAS AT THAT TIME, ONLY AN ACOUSTIC BASS PLAYER, I DIDN'T EVEN OWN AN ELECTRIC BASS. IT WAS BECAUSE OF YOU THAT I WANTED TO LEARN HOW TO PLAY ELECTRIC BASS, FRETLESS WITH EPOXY RESIN ON THE FINGERBOARD OF COARSE! YOU'RE PLAYING AND SOUND HAD MORE IMPACT ON THE MUSIC INDUSTRY THEN ANYONE I CAN THINK OF ON ANY INSTRUMENT, LET ALONE AN ELECTRIC BASS PLAYER. YOU GAVE THE ELECTRIC BASS A REAL VOICE OF IT'S OWN, NOT JUST A GROOVING, TIME KEEPING INSTRUMENT IN THE BACKROUND.
OVER THE YEARS YOUR PLAYING AND WRITING EVOLVED, YOUR VOICE COMPLETELY CHANGED THE SOUND OF THE GROUP "WEATHER REPORT", AND YOU JUST KEPT BREAKING NEW GROUND AS AN ARTIST, ALWAYS GROWING. WE HAD THE CHANCE TO MEET AND HANG OUT A FEW TIMES, EVEN PLAY BASS TOGETHER. YOU ALWAYS TREATED ME WITH RESPECT AND SHOWED ME A VERY SPECIAL SIDE OF YOU, YOU EVEN THOUGHT MY BASS DESIGN WAS COOL AND YOU KNOW WE WERE BUILDING ONE FOR YOU!
JACO, WHAT ELSE CAN I SAY THAT HASN'T BEEN SAID ALREADY BY SO MANY OTHERS. YOUR GIFT AND TALENT HAS NOT BEEN EVEN CLOSE TO BEING ECLIPSED. GOING BACK AND LISTENING TO MANY OF YOUR RECORDINGS AFTER ALL THESE YEARS, SHOWS YOUR GENIUS EVEN MORE NOW THEN IT DID BEFORE. TO THIS DAY, YOU'RE PLAYING, PASSION, SOUND, AND RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR HANDS AND YOUR BASS IS STILL CONSIDERED THE STANDARD THAT EVERY ELECTRIC BASS PLAYER IN THE WORLD WANTS TO ACHIEVE.
JACO, I HOPE YOU LIKE THIS RECORDING; IT WAS MADE AS A TRUE TRIBUTE FOR WHO YOU ARE AND FOR WHAT YOU GAVE ALL OF US. YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION FOR US TO BE THE BEST WE CAN BE. WE ALL MISS YOU JACO; I BET YOU ARE PLAYING YOUR ASS OFF! WE HEAR YOU……………………………………….BRIAN BROMBERG
With the release of WOOD II, his sequel to the staggering acoustic bass manifesto, Wood, Brian Bromberg’s phenomenal acoustic bass playing again takes center stage. Where Wood was a warm and intimate collection, WOOD II casts a wider net and interjects a sly, gentle humor. Backed by the masterful piano playing of Randy Waldman, and the intricate rhythms of world class drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, Bromberg has crafted a tightly integrated audio portrait of swinging bop staples, jazz standards and pop classics. WOOD II showcases Bromberg doing what he does best - "...boldly going where no acoustic bassist has gone before..." Amazon.com
Bass players! Brian Bromberg is available to teach one on one lessons on Skype.
Whether you play upright bass, electric bass, or both, you can now work with Brian from the comfort of your own home, anywhere in the world!
Brian is available for a limited time so please email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your lesson today! Please reserve your space through PayPal