"Song and Dance" (2007) emphasized pop tunes Broom grew up with as well as several affecting originals, while repertoire on the fantastic "The Way I Play" (2008) drew from jazz standards and American songbook classics. On "Plays for Monk," which will come out June 16, Broom explores the rich mother lode of Thelonious Monk's compositions.
"In many ways, Monk personifies all that attracted and continues to satisfy me in my love affair with jazz music," says Broom. "The way that he, the musician, fit into the jazz landscape while at the same time standing out and apart from it; the controlled but unpredictable creative freedom he spoke with as an improviser, and the variety of feelings he could conjure up; how, as a composer, his tunes were a clear reflection of his playing and musical personality and how those musical characteristics seemed to fit with the way he walked and talked, and even his personal style. Thelonious Monk, for me, is a prime example of jazz's expressionistic depth, and it seems fitting and natural that I should deal with the musical subject matter in this new album."
Guitar was never featured on any of Monk's own recordings (except for the early-1940s Minton's bootlegs with Charlie Christian), and Broom embraced the challenge of making Monk's material an expressive vehicle for himself and for the trio's group sound, one element of which he describes as "a convergence of swing and backbeat." Broom strayed from the most frequently covered Monk tunes and selected "Work," "Evidence," "Reflections," "Bemsha Swing" (which is given a second-line New Orleans groove), "Ask Me Now," "Ruby, My Dear," "Rhythm-a-ning," and "In Walked Bud," as well as two songs associated with the pianist -- "Lulu's Back in Town" and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" (a Broom solo performance that closes the album).
"Plays for Monk's" cover photo, of Broom's Hofner Jazzica guitar in a red wagon, is an affectionate reference to the Monk-in-red-wagon cover of the 1957 Riverside LP, "Monk's Music."
The Bobby Broom Trio (pictured below by Mark Sheldon) has been performing every Wednesday night at Pete Miller's in Evanston, Illinois, for the past 13 years and recorded its previous CD, "The Way I Play," at the popular steakhouse. "It is extraordinary and highly unlikely for a recording jazz group to hold a steady engagement for so long," says Broom. "I've been very fortunate to be in the position to develop my musical ideas within this group, including details concerning the group dynamic and subtleties that can't be discussed or written into the music. There's really something special about development over time."
"The mighty fire of Broom's playing... seems to have grown hotter and deeper in recent seasons," wrote Joe Woodard in Jazziz of The Way I Play, which he called "a thrilling and warming set." Pat Metheny, on his own web site, recommended the CD as "one of the best guitar trio records ever."
Bobby Broom has another long-standing trio affiliation in the Deep Blue Organ Trio, which one reviewer has deemed "Hammond B3-guitar-drums jazz of the highest order." Together with organist Chris Foreman and drummer Greg Rockingham, Broom and Deep Blue have to date recorded three albums (and one DVD), including their 2007 Origin chart sensation "Folk Music." The trio plans to reenter the studio in late summer or early fall to record a new CD for Origin.
A longtime member of Sonny Rollins's band, Broom continues to travel the world with Rollins, which he calls "the ultimate jazz experience." But the guitarist, who also played with the tenor titan as an electric bassist, has been carving out his own compelling musical path, on which "Plays for Monk" is the latest milestone.