The world of Brian Bromberg

Brian Bromberg was born in Tucson Arizona. He grew up in a family of musicians and artists. His father and brother played the drums. With all that music around the house and drums all over the place, it was natural for Brian to start playing the drums as well. Brian was two and a half years old, beating up the furniture and banging on anything that didn't move.
After some years of playing and practicing, Brian began his professional career as a drummer at the age of thirteen. In elementary and Jr.high School, Brian also played the cello. That was one instrument that Brian did not feel very comfortable playing. One day in orchestra class at jr. high, the orchestra director came over to Brian and said, hey Brian, you see that big bass over there in the corner? You know that nobody is playing it. Don't you want to play that big cool bass over there? You see, the orchestra director had a plan. He thought that having one bad bass player was better than not having one at all. That was his way of getting Brian to stop trying to saw his cello in half!


That day was a blessing in disguise. Brian didn't realize that he had the gift for melody as well as rhythm. With his drumming background and all this new melody available to him from the bass, Brian knew that this was going to be his path.
From ages fourteen to eighteen, Brian locked himself up in a room and practiced day and night. While Brian was a junior in High School he was already taking many music classes at the University Of Arizona. At the U of A Brian played in the Lab Band, orchestra, and jazz combos. All that led him to test out of high school early and devote all his time to the music. For the next few years, Brian played every type of gig imaginable. Quite often Brian would play five to seven nights a week with several different bands.


Brian's first big break came in 1979 when Marc Johnson, the wonderful bassist with the great jazz pianist Bill Evans, heard Brian play while on the road in Tucson. Several months later while on tour, Marc ran into legendary jazz saxophonist Stan Getz. Stan was looking for a new bass player and asked Marc if he knew any new young players. Marc told Stan about Brian. Brian auditioned for Stan and joined the Stan Getz quintet in December of 1979. Brian had just turned 19 and spent nearly a year touring the world with Stan and his band.
Since then, Brian has toured, performed, and or recorded with some of the greatest artists of our time including the likes of:

 

Amy Grant 

Andrea Bocelli 


Andy Williams
 

Anita O' Day 


Arturo Sandoval
 

Barney Kessel
 

Barry Harris
 

Bela Fleck
 

Benny Golson
 

Bill Evans
 

Billy Cobham 


Bob Berg
 

Bob James
 

Bob Mintzer 

Bobby Kimball
 

Bobby Lyle
 

Boney James 

Brian Culbertson
 

Carmen McRae 


Chante Moore
 

Chuck Loeb
 

Chris Botti
 

Christina Aguilera 

Clare Fischer
 

Clark Terry 

Dave Douglas
 

Dave Grusin
 

Dave Koz
 

Dave Weckl 


David Benoit
 

David Foster
 

Dean Martin 

Dianne Reeves 


Diane Schuur
 

Dianna Krall
 

Dizzy Gillespie 

Djavan 

Doc Powell
 

Donny Osmond
 

Dudley Moore 


Eddie Harris
 

Elvin Jones
 

Elvis Costello 


Eric Idle 


Ernie Watts 


Everette Harp
 

Freddie Hubbard
 

Gerald Albright
 

George Benson 


George Duke
 

Gerry Mulligan
 

Gonzalo Rubalcaba 


Hank Jones 

Herb Alpert 


Herb Ellis 


Herbie Hancock
 

Herbie Mann 


Horace Silver 


Ivan Lins 


James Moody 


Jeff Lorber 


Jerry Lewis 

Jessy J
 

Joe Farrell 


Joe Jonas 


Joe Lovano 

Joe Pass
 

Joe Sample
 

Joey Mcintyre 


John Klemmer
 

Johnathan Butler
 

Johnny Mandel 

Josh Grobin
 

Joshua Bell 

 

Joshua Redman 


Keiko Matsui 


Kenny Baron
 

Kenny G
 

Kenny Garrett
 

Kenny Rankin
 

Kirk Whalum
 

Lalo Schiffren 


Larry Carlton
 

Larry Coryell
 

Lee Konitz 


Lee Ritenour
 

Lenny White 


Les McCann
 

Lionel Hampton 


Lou Rawls
 

Maceo Parker 

Maria Rita 

Maysa 


Melissa Manchester
 

Michael Brecker 


Michael Buble 


Michael Crawford
 

Michel Legrand 

Mike Stern
 

Monte Alexander 


Nancy Wilson
 

Najee 


Ne-Yo 

Nick Colionne 

Nino Tempo
 

Norman Brown 

Oscar Castro-Neves
 

Patrice Rushen
 

Patti Page 

Paul Horn 

Paula Cole
 

 

 

Peter White
 

Phil Perry 

Philip Bailey 


Randy Brecker 


Rene Olstead 


Richard Elliot 

Richie Beirach 


Richie Cole
 

Rick Braun 


Robben Ford 


Roy Hargrove
 

Russ Freeman 


Sadao Watanabe 


Sarah Vaughn
 

Shirley Horn
 

Sonny Stitt
 

Stan Getz
 

Stanley Clarke
 

Stanley Jordan 


Stanley Turrentine 


Steve Lukather 


Steven Bishop 


Steven Tyler 


Sting
 

Teo Macero
 

Tina Marie
 

Tom Scott
 

Tony Williams
 

Toots Thielemans 

Vince Gill 

Vincent Herring
 

Vinnie Colaiuta 

Warne Marsh
 

Warren Vache 

Whitney Houston
 

Woody Shaw 

Zachary Breaux 

 

Brian has also played on many movie soundtracks, including:

"The Exterminator" (1980) 

"Absolute Beginners" (1986) 

"The Fabulous Baker Boys" (1989) 

"Havana" (1990) 

"Guilty by Suspicion" (1991) 

"Housesitter" (1992) 

"The Preachers Wife" (1996) 

"Hope Floats" (1998) 

"The Recruit" (2003) 

"Fat Albert" (2004) 

“The Bucket List” (2007)

Brian's solo career began with the release of his first album A New Day in 1986. Right from the beginning with this first release, critics started noticing that Brian was different, doing things with the bass that had not been done before. Bromberg's reputation was starting to spread throughout the world. Smooth jazz radio took notice as well, breaking Brian into the format and charting with his first record.

His next release Basses Loaded, started to propel his visibility more. Even the title track became a cult classic amongst many bass players. Again, radio embraced his music and Brian was beginning to be recognized as a composer as well as a bassist.

Brian's very much anticipated third release, Magic Rain was the #1 most added record to radio in the country within the first week of release. Many people feel that this recording is when Brian started really coming into his own skin as an artist.

Bromberg's fourth release BASSically Speaking, actually a reissue of Brian's first recording with some new tracks and additions, went top 5 on the radio charts and #7 on the Billboard sale's charts.

Brian chose to go back to his mainstream jazz roots for his fifth release, It's About Time, The Acoustic Project. This is a straight-ahead jazz record that feature's jazz greats "Freddie Hubbard" and "Ernie Watts". This is an all-acoustic jazz record that went to #4 on the mainstream jazz charts.

Brian went back to his electric, more contemporary sound for his next record, Brian Bromberg. This CD has an all-star cast featuring: Everette Harp, Ivan Lins, Jeff Lorber, Lee Ritenour, Toots Thielemans, Ernie Watts, Kirk Whalum, and many more. This disc ranges in styles from extremely funky to wild and crazy all the way to mellow and soothing.

In February 1998, Brian released You Know That Feeling, An exceptional CD featuring smooth jazz greats, Rick Braun, Joe Sample, Jeff Lorber, and Everette Harp, among many others. By June of '98, Brian had his first #1 record of his career and had three singles in a row that each went to #3 on the charts. He spent 17 consecutive months on the charts, 8 months in the top 10, nearly 6 months in the top 5. Brian's CD was the 5th most played CD from the top 100 CD's of the year in smooth jazz. To this day, You Know That Feeling still remains in regular rotation on smooth jazz stations across the country.

In 2002 Brian recorded his first acoustic jazz trio CD Wood featuring the incredible Randy Waldman on piano and Brian’s brother David Bromberg on drums. A mixture of jazz standards and modern classics ranging from Cole Porter to the Beatles. This recording not only sold very well throughout the world, but it also gained Brian quite a bit of notoriety as an acoustic bass virtuoso as well as a respected producer. The audio quality of this recording has been compared with some of the best sounding recordings in jazz. Wood has been used all over the world to demo the highest quality audiophile stereo equipment available and has become a standard in many audiophile retail stores throughout the world.

Brian’s next project, Jaco, was originally released in Japan. The concept of the project was to have an all-star cast of bass players contribute one song each on a CD that was a tribute to Jaco Pastorius’s 50th birthday, had he lived. Brian was slated to produce the project and was only going to play one song on the record with the remaining songs played by other well-known bassists. For unknown reasons that puzzled both Brian as well and the record company, almost every single bassist that was asked to participate on the CD fell through. The record company decided that there couldn’t be a tribute CD featuring one musician. By default, the record became a Brian Bromberg project featuring many of Jaco’s most well-known songs, in addition to tunes that were made popular by the group Weather Report that Jaco had a major presence in. Needless to say, Brian looked at this as a very daunting task and often says that it is impossible to fill Jaco’s shoes, and certainly, no bass player can out Jaco, Jaco. Brian truly made this his own project and significantly changed the arrangements on many of the popular songs while using his acoustic bass as a major voice on the CD. Jaco never played the acoustic bass yet Brian used his greatest tool to give tribute to one of the best electric bass players that has ever lived. This CD holds a very special place in Brian’s heart because on many occasions he had hung out and even played with Jaco. It meant a lot to Brian to make a record honoring a musician that he respected so much. Brian’s CD Choices in 2005 is a recording made up of music that was in his mind and heart for a long time. Most of the music on

Choices was written and inspired from real-life experience. Brian looks at this CD as a book of short stories. Each song is a different story with a common theme of the artists’ voice. He wanted to tell many different kinds of stories with a 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 Brian’s story of a fight for freedom and a tribute to the indigenous people of Africa. The one thing Brian will tell you is that this 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 used the bass in many different ways. Brian used his versatility and use of the modern bass to be more melodic and help tell the big picture story that held inside of him.

Brian’s next release called Metal is his first instrumental rock fusion recording highlighting his command of the piccolo bass. When you listen to this record you would swear that it is a screaming rock guitar record, yet there is not one single guitar on this CD. Brian has yet again demonstrated how he can push the envelope as an innovator of the bass.

After rocking out with Metal, Brian chose to follow up with a sequel to his award-winning acoustic jazz trio CD, Wood with Wood II. Wood II shows more of Brian’s sense of humor and adds a breath of fresh air to a Jazz trio project. It features the incredible talent of Randy Waldman on piano and the world's most in-demand drummer Vinnie Colaiuta. Truly the perfect blend of serious traditional jazz and lighthearted fun that will make you smile.

Still, in the acoustic vibe, Brian received his first Grammy Nomination with his next project Downright Upright. Another groundbreaking project for Brian as it topped the Smooth Jazz and the Traditional Jazz charts at the same time with the same record. This is a very challenging feat. The CD features an all-star cast including Rick Braun, Vinnie Colaiuta, George Duke, Boney James, Jeff Lorber, Lee Ritenour, Ganin Arnold, and Kirk Whalum. A blend of originals and jazz classics, this without a doubt a fun, funky, feel-good record.

Brian’s next American release after his Grammy-nominated Downright Upright is the fun and funky It Is What It Is, This CD is quite a departure from his past few releases. It focuses heavily on the electric bass and has an in-your-face ten-piece horn section! Bromberg gets loose and groovy throughout the 13 tracks on It Is What It Is, including his unique spin on the B52's dance classic "Love Shack” and Quincy Jones’ theme song to the classic hit TV series “Sanford and Son”. Brian is joined again by some of the greatest musicians in the world including George Duke, Patrice Rushen, Jeff Lorber, Randy Brecker, Eric Marienthal, Gerald Albright, Richard Elliot, Rick Braun, Gary Meek, Will Kennedy, Dave Weckl, Alex Acuña, Paul Jackson Jr., Dan Siegel and more.

Brian’s next project is his first completely solo acoustic bass CD called Hands. Originally released in Japan, this CD was the vision of King Records executive Susumu Morikawa. Recorded at a beautiful private recording studio on a ranch surrounded by horses and giant California Redwoods, this CD is truly one of a kind. It is a purely audio file recording that was captured using three state-of-the-art Neumann digital microphones. It was recorded at 24-bit 96Khz bandwidth and is a remarkable recording. The diversity of the songs makes this album an adventure to listen to. The listener will experience everything from jazz classics like Stella By Starlight and In A Sentimental Mood, to songs by The Beatles, Jaco Pastorius, Sting ("King Of Pain"), and even Led Zeppelin ("Black Dog") and Usher ("Yeah"). If you are a fan of the acoustic double bass you will love this State of the art solo bass recording.

Bromberg then released a high-energy jazz release called Compared To That. Backed by a ten-piece horn section and full orchestra string section, bassist Brian Bromberg's Compared To That is rooted in straight-ahead acoustic jazz, but in classic Bromberg style, there are many twists and turns along the way.

“One thing I feel that makes Compared To That a unique project is that it is a live jazz recording that also has a ten-piece horn section on many tracks, a full orchestra string section on two cuts, and the production of a much bigger project. Essentially, it really was a two-day live jazz recording session along with months of the kind of production used on big pop records. I truly blended the best of both worlds: live acoustic jazz with the audiophile of a major production,” Bromberg said. “I went more to my jazz roots on this CD with a lot of swing and walking bass.”

Throughout the album, Bromberg plays his acoustic, electric, and piccolo basses, throwing in funk, ballads, and swing styles along the way. the centerpiece of Compared To That is an incredible orchestral composition called Hayride, featuring the brilliant banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck. In addition to the horn and string sections, Bromberg enlisted an impressive line-up of guest artists to appear on the album, including Alex Acuna, Gannin Arnold, Charlie Bisharat, Randy Brecker, Vinnie Colaiuta, George Duke, Bela Fleck, Mitch Forman, Larry Goldings, Jeff Lorber, Gary Meek, and Tom Zink.

In 2012 Bromberg released two CD's dedicated and inspired by two of the 1960's most influential and unique artists, Jimi Hendrix and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Bromberg Plays Hendrix, re-mixed and re-mastered in 2020 is a high-energy shredding rock/fusion CD playing the most popular songs from Jimi Hendrix featuring the amazing Drummer Vinnie Colaiuta. Brian uses about 11 different basses on this CD truly showcasing Brian's versatility on the bass as well as his mastery of the piccolo bass which is a bass tuned to the register of a guitar. People cannot believe that Brian on piccolo bass is not playing guitar. In fact, guitar players are regularly quite shocked that what they are hearing is played actually on bass and not a guitar. Not too many holiday cards from guitar players for Brian these days!

In the same guitar vibe but with a totally different sound and feel is Bromberg's In The Spirit Of Jobim. Brian splits the CD up between Jobim classics mixed in with Brian's original compositions written in the Jobim Brazilian bossa nova genre. Brian features the nylon string piccolo bass on this recording sounding like a nylon string classical guitar, as well as his 300-year-old acoustic bass. This all-acoustic recording also features a full orchestra string section as well as Brazilian music legends Airto and Oscar Castro-Neves, formally Jobim's music director. In The Spirit Of Jobim is a lush feel good very positive energy recording that truly sums up the summer bossa nova feel.

Brian Bromberg hasn’t released an album in the U.S. since 2012…a fact that might not have been cause for concern if you know that at one point he released three albums in one year. Every man deserves a break. However, once you realize that this chameleon with over 20 projects in his catalog recently had reason to believe that he might never play music again, you understand the gravity of his latest acoustic jazz project, Full Circle - one he says may well be “the most important record of my career.” 

A freak accident that Bromberg had at his home a couple years ago resulted in him breaking his back in two places with severe trauma. The fall nearly debilitated him requiring extensive rehabilitation to stand and walk, let alone cradle an upright bass properly or strap an electric bass on his back. Through sheer intestinal fortitude, exhaustive work, and the love and support of the woman in his life, Bromberg made an amazing recovery. When he did, a familial spirit guided him to make an album that returned him to his roots in acoustic jazz. That spirit is that of his father, Howard Bromberg, a once-busy drummer in Tucson, Arizona (where Brian was born) who inspired both his sons to play drums as well. 

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. The project also finds ‘the man that refuses to sit still’ mixing styles from New Orleans funk and a legit jazz cover of Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop `Til You Get Enough” with a sizzling relentless swing throughout, to "Havana Nights" a Cuban salsa style hot Latin tune. These are the aspects that make this project resonate deeper than anything Bromberg’s done prior boils down to a series of life-changing events, career firsts, and the magic of today’s technology meeting mediums of old. 

Full Circle opens and closes with the tunes “Jazz Me Blues” and “Washington & Lee Swing” that were originally recorded by the senior Bromberg with a band of friends onto a one-off acetate. Spiritually moved by a desire to play with his late father – something he never got to do when he was alive due to a stroke he suffered just when Bromberg became proficient on bass – he copied the platter with a USB turntable, had the file cleaned up at Oasis Mastering then overdubbed himself in his home studio playing bass in his dad’s old quintet. “A few really amazing things happened to me when I was recording those tracks with my father; those tracks originally were recorded before I was born, so it was such a trip playing with my Dad before I was even on this planet! When I was playing with him I realized at that moment where I got my time feel and swing from, it was effortless to play with him, mind-blowing actually. I guess the experience that inspired the whole concept of this CD was feeling his time feel and swing inspired me to start playing drums again because it felt so good.” That sentimental journey inspired Full Circle. Bromberg seamlessly laid down the rhythm tracks for bass, drums and “guitar” (the latter facilitated by playing melodies and solos on the higher pitched piccolo bass) on every song. As a bassist, Bromberg playing the piccolo bass with his fingers affords him a unique sound (much like Stanley Jordan on guitar) from the majority of guitarists that play using picks. 

  “That’s where the ‘Full Circle’ concept came around. I didn’t know if I was ready to do it but, spiritually, I felt that my father wanted me to do it and to do it now.” 

Breaking down his methodology, Bromberg shares, “When I wrote the tunes, I made demos with swingin’ drum samples that I programmed just to hold down the time, and then I played reference piccolo bass parts and regular bass parts to make a musical foundation. Then I had the piano players come over and I’d play drums live with them for interaction. The point is, by the time I played drums to it, I had good swinging bass parts to lock my drum parts to or vice versa. I added all my piccolo bass (and the horn players’ solos) last. I’m proud that I don’t sound like ‘a good drummer for a bass player.’ It doesn’t sound overdubbed and the feel of the pocket is righteous. Because I don’t have the facility of a drummer that’s played for 35 years, there’s more space than a normal drummer would leave which gives it a unique sound.” 

Bromberg is among the proud few to have a solid foundation in traditional jazz yet enjoy success in smooth jazz. This explains the accessibility of the songs that comprise Full Circle. “The smooth jazz world helped me understand the power of reaching people and what that means beyond the myopic world of being a virtuoso. It’s helped me become a more melodic and storytelling improviser.” 

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.” 

“This CD is just a swinging, in your face traditional jazz CD with simple tunes that are easy to sing along with and remember, but have a foundation in hardcore “real” jazz,” Bromberg concludes. “I hope people enjoy this CD for it is and what it means to me vs. judging it for what it’s not.”

Bromberg's next release Thicker Than Water is about as polar opposite as "Full Circle" as you can get. Released in July 2018, Thicker Than Water went to #1 in the country on the Billboard Smooth Jazz charts and #1 on the Smooth Jazz Network charts! Brian's new CD is a high-energy, funky, in-your-face project, unlike anything Bromberg has ever done in his career. This is a CD that Bromberg has been wanting to make for years. This CD is all original music totally ensconced in memorable melodies, infectious grooves, and deep pocket. Live horn sections rounding out a truly fun and positive energy listening experience. Thicker Than Water features artists like Najee, George Duke, Randy Brecker, Everette Harp, Paul Jackson Jr. Brian Simpson, Marion Meadows. Brandon Fields, and Gary Meek.

For a virtuoso jazz bassist and world-renowned producer, quarantined in his Southern California home during a global pandemic and contemplating an uncertain future, the holidays would seem to be the last thing on one’s mind. The chameleonic Brian Bromberg has never been one to follow the expected path, however. With live gigs cancelled and the opportunity for collaboration complicated by social distancing, Bromberg virtually assembled a stellar cohort of musicians to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year on Celebrate Me Home: The Holiday Sessions.

 

Released September 25, 2020 on Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Music Group, Celebrate Me Home takes its title from the Kenny Loggins classic, co-written by Bob James, which feels all the more poignant given our current circumstances. Gorgeously expressed by vocalist Chris Walker, the song achingly captures the yearning for a return to familiar surroundings and loved ones that many of us are feeling right now, regardless of the season.

 

“It’s an incredible song, and it absolutely fits this moment,” Bromberg says, admitting that tackling beloved Christmas songs in isolation made for an unusual challenge. “We can’t go anywhere, we can’t do anything; we’re all stuck dreaming about all the things we’d rather be doing, the fun we’d love to be having, but we just can’t. So, we had to figure out how to create a vibe and an experience while we’re stuck in this weird place. On the flip side of that, I don’t think this record would have happened the way that it did had I not been in quarantine. This made it possible to take a dark place and turn it into a light place, which became my saving grace.”

 

The album’s joyous spirit belies the conditions under which it was created. The sessions were conducted piece by piece, with each musician contributing from their home studio, or in isolation at a studio of choice. To transcend those limitations, Bromberg invited an all-star roster of special guests: vocalists Walker and Maysa, saxophonists Everette Harp, Elan Trotman and Gary Meek, flutist Najee, guitarist Ramon Stagnaro and steel pan master Kareem Thompson. They join a remarkable band of longtime collaborators that includes keyboardist Tom Zink, guitarist Ray Fuller, saxophonist Andrew Neu, drummers Tony Moore and Joel Taylor, and percussionist Alex Acuña.

 

Longtime Bromberg fans have become familiar with the versatile bassist’s whiplash shifts in style and approach from one project to the next over the course of his four-decade career. His recordings span big band swing and smooth jazz, Latin rhythms and tender balladry, raucous funk and blistering rock (the holiday album’s release, in fact, coincides with the remixed and remastered reissue of his 2012 album Bromberg Plays Hendrix, a muscular tribute to the late rock icon). But Celebrate Me Home brings Bromberg’s many facets together for a musical holiday party where jazz mingles with calypso and R&B meets swing under the mistletoe.

 

That stylistic diversity is in keeping with the eclectic choice of material on the album, which includes many of the expected Yuletide classics (“The Christmas Song,” “Deck the Halls”) but also such pop hits as Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” and Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime,” José Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad,” a smash hit that is rarely reprised, and a pair of heartfelt original compositions.

 

Bromberg is the first to admit that the idea of recording a Christmas album had never crossed his mind. He had contributed to other artists’ Christmas albums, including projects by David Benoit and Brian Culbertson, and knew that radio was always hungry for new songs of the season as the end of the year came into sight. He was also urged to get into the spirit by his fiancée and her best friend, so eventually gave in and recorded a finger-snapping swing rendition of “Let It Snow,” featuring a duet between Walker and Maysa. “It was so much fun,” Bromberg says, “I decided to take this more seriously. It allowed me to be creative and jump into Latin jazz, big band jazz, swinging straight-ahead jazz, funky stuff and R&B jams, all on one record and get away with it.”

 

A smooth, soulful version of “This Christmas” opens the album, with Bromberg playing the silky melody on nylon-string piccolo bass. McCartney’s polarizing “Wonderful Christmastime” follows, with Bromberg tipping his Santa cap to the ex-Beatle’s legacy with an homage to “All You Need Is Love” in Andrew Neu’s horn arrangement. The entrance of sleigh bells segues into the wintry landscape of Bromberg’s first original, the warmly embracing “Let’s Go On a Sleigh Ride!”

 

The open fire roasts more than chestnuts on a romantic reimagining of “The Christmas Song,” while Bromberg gives “Jingle Bells” a cultural twist as a medley with “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel,” along with the Barbados-born Trotman and Thompson’s steel pans transforming both songs into a tropical calypso culminating at the end in “St. Thomas.” Bromberg shows off his impressive drum skills as he sets the pace for a brisk, swinging hybrid of “Deck the Halls” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” before slowing things down for the original ballad “Holidays Without You.” Stagnaro and Acuña add a Latin feel to “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “Feliz Navidad,” while Bromberg’s acoustic bass and Neu’s baritone sax stand in for Thurl Ravenscroft’s snarl on “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”

 

For all of the improbabilities facing its creation, Celebrate Me Home ended up being a lively and deeply felt project of which Bromberg is deservedly proud. “The one thing that I hope people will hear on the record is honesty,” he concludes. “I really think you can hear that we’re all having fun and that my heart was in it, 100 percent.”

Also after nearly a year of being cooped up within the same four walls, it’s only natural that one’s thoughts might turn to the freedom of the open road. That’s certainly true of virtuoso jazz bassist and world-renowned producer Brian Bromberg, whose third pandemic-era release shrugs off the prevailing mood of COVID-era claustrophobia and political strife for A Little Driving Music, a fun, funky paean to cruising with the top down and leaving your troubles behind.

While countless musicians have spent the quarantine months in a state of limbo, the always-prolific Bromberg quickly figured out a way to continue making music while remaining socially distanced. Released on May 21, 2021, via Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Music Group, A Little Driving Music follows the bassist’s wide-ranging holiday album, Celebrate Me Home, and the remixed and remastered digital release of his stunning tribute album Bromberg Plays Hendrix.

“In one aspect it's been a weird, heartbreaking time to be a musician who just wants to play music with human beings, for human beings,” Bromberg laments. “On the flip side, I've been really fortunate. It's been a really positive, productive period because I've had nothing but time to sit in front of a computer or pluck my strings.”

A Little Driving Music features a dozen brand-new Bromberg compositions, as well as a surprising 80's cover song, the joyful Katrina and the Waves hit “Walking on Sunshine.” Despite recording each musician in isolation and at a distance, the bassist managed to (virtually) assemble an elite roster of longtime collaborators and all-star special guests including saxophonists Dave Koz, Everette Harp, Gary Meek, Elan Trotman, Darren Rahn, and Marion Meadows; keyboardist Tom Zink; guitarists Jerry Cortez, Nick Colionne and Ray Fuller; drummers Joel Taylor and Tony Moore; vibraphonist Craig Fundiga; and percussionist Lenny Castro. There’s even a string orchestra featuring members of the National Symphony Orchestra of the Dominican Republic, conducted by arranger Corey Allen (again, with COVID safety protocols in place).

“This is the hand you're dealt, so you make the most of it,” Bromberg says of the unusual circumstances under which the album was recorded. “Everything about how we do things has changed, but when you come to terms with that and accept it for what is, you can enjoy the process. Especially when you're dealing with a lot of talented people and state-of-the-art technology – it's amazing what you can do despite not being in a prime situation.” No trace of that adverse situation can be heard as the album kicks off with “Froggy’s,” a carefree, high-spirited funk tune highlighted by a lively horn section emulating the chorus of frogs that often greets the composer at his Southern California home. Bromberg takes a blistering solo on piccolo bass, which could easily be mistaken for a shredding electric guitar. The baton is then picked up by Everette Harp’s vibrant turn on sax.

A diary entry for these strange times, “Quarantine” was the first track penned by Bromberg after lockdown commenced. The rest of the album was also composed in quarantine, with the sole exception of the title track – fittingly enough, as the freewheeling “A Little Driving Music” fills the listener with a sense of movement and freedom much missed over these solitary months. “That Cool Groovy Beatnik Jazz” is another self-explanatory title, conjuring the laid-back, finger-snapping groove of a classic BYOB hipster café (meaning Bring Your Own Bongos).

Both “Bado Boy!” and “Lullaby for Bado” are dedicated to a cat that Bromberg and his fiancée rescued from Barbados, a complicated tale that eventually involved the island’s Minister of Agriculture. (“It would be as if you wanted to rescue a cat and had to talk to the Vice President of the United States to do it,” Bromberg says incredulously.) The former tune, which features Barbados-born saxophonist Elan Trotman, reflects the feline’s playful spirit; the latter, pairing Bromberg’s emotional acoustic bass with the Dominican Republic strings, is an elegy for the lost cat.

“We knew he was sick, but we hoped he'd live a long time,” Bromberg recalls. “Unfortunately, he only lived a year, but he had a hell of a year living with us instead of being alone as a stray cat sick in the Caribbean.”

With an assist from Dave Koz, “Walking on Sunshine” reimagines the 80s classic in a jazz context, slower and funkier than the incessantly upbeat original. “After the year we've had – and, sadly, the year we're likely going to have – a little positive energy goes a long way,” Bromberg explains. “So, I wanted to record something with positive energy and uplift that also had that twist, that most recording artists might not have thought of doing.”

Short for Sagittarius, “Sag 5” is named for the December 5 birthday that Bromberg shares with saxophonist Darren Rahn, who guests on the track, melding sounds so harmoniously with the bassist that it lends a bit of credence to astrological synergy. Adding Andrew Neu on clarinet and Mitch Forman on accordion, “A Rainy Day in Paris” transports the listener to a café in the City of Lights as the weather turns gray outside. “If that song doesn't make you want to have a glass of wine and some cheese, I don't know what will,” insists Bromberg. “The only thing missing is a red and white checkered tablecloth.”

With Marion Meadows extolling the hopeful melody on soprano sax, “Peace” is Bromberg’s offering to the search for sanity in a contentious world. As he describes it, the tune is “the equivalent of a musical time out, suggesting that everybody just take a deep breath while the world and this country, in particular, is pretty upside down.”

The country-accented “Jedediah’s Gold” paints a sepia-tinged portrait of a Gold Rush miner and his stake in the Old West, while “The Sitting Room” luxuriates in the feeling of relaxing in a favorite, comfy spot at home. The greasy, slinky “Baton Rouge” detours down south for a bit of hot, sweaty, fun-in-the-sun funk with Nick Colionne laying down some down-home guitar licks.

“There's some heavier music on A Little Driving Music,” Bromberg concludes, “but for the most part, it's a fun, positive energy record. There's nothing better than that Zen moment of listening to great tunes on the road, looking out the window at life. That's the vibe of it to me: I hope people just want to put it on in the car and crank it up.”

In addition to Brian’s success as a solo artist, he has developed quite a reputation as a producer. To see some of the projects that Brian has produced, Please go to the B² Productions area of the site as there are many CD’s and sound bites from some of those projects.

All in all, Brian has produced more than a dozen top #10 and top #5 hits as well as five #1 songs for himself and other recording artists!

Brian certainly has evolved into a very respected voice in the music industry.

From smashing through the barriers of how the bass is SUPPOSED to be played, cutting edge bass design, to being recognized as a world-class producer, songwriter, and session musician. He keeps pushing the envelope to become the best that he can be and to keep pushing the boundaries. As Brian himself says, "There are no rules, just dreams".

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