Following 2000’s all-acoustic Wood, and 2002’s tribute album, Jaco, Brian Bromberg returns to the smooth jazz territory of his 1998 release, You Know That …
Following 2000’s all-acoustic Wood
, and 2002’s tribute album, Jaco
, Brian Bromberg returns to the smooth jazz territory of his 1998 release, You Know That Feeling
. Easy-going and radio-friendly, what sets Choices
apart from so many other smooth jazz releases is the virtuosity of bassist Bromberg who, for all his capabilities, never overplays; he always serves the song, delivering memorable melodies and sing-able solos that are both appealing and well constructed.
With an arsenal of basses at his disposal, including a number of piccolo basses that allow him to play in the range of a guitar, Bromberg is almost a one-man band. While there are guest soloists, in particular reedmen Gary Meek and Eric Marienthal who both deliver tasteful work, this is really Bromberg’s show; from delivering fat grooves to rhythmic comping to stating the themes to extended solos, Bromberg does it all, and with a flair that continues to assert his position as an instrumentalist of significance.
From the relaxed funk of "Never Give Up" to the slightly Latin feel of the Metheny esque title track; from the soulful "Snuggle Up" to the uptempo B2, which features Brian Culbertson on piano; from the ballad "Why?", which has as its source the Columbine Tragedy, to the African Highlife closer, "Hear Our Cry," Bromberg delivers a varied programme with enough different grooves to keep things interesting; and enough textures from his different basses to create a broad sonic palette.
One of the purposes behind the recording was to work again, and in a different context, with three well-known keyboard players: Jeff Lorber, David Kochanski and Tom Zink, all three having worked with Bromberg on Jaco
. Bromberg, in fact, brings back other players from that session, Alex Acuna on percussion and Joel Taylor on drums, showing how versatile each of these players can be, given that the material on Choices
is as different as can be from Jaco
. Joel Taylor, in particular, is a versatile drummer who can play anything from the smooth grooves on this disk to hard-hitting fusion with guitarist Alan Holdsworth, and everything in between. Along with Bromberg he is the only other constant on all tracks, and is as good a rhythm section partner as one could ask for.
One of the most appealing aspects about Bromberg is his complete unpredictability; from album to album one is never quite sure where he’s going to go. The one thing that can be counted on, however, is that whatever he chooses to do it will be well-conceived and executed. Whether on acoustic bass, piccolo bass, fretted or fretless electric basses, Bromberg demonstrates an almost encyclopedic knowledge of both his instrument and the genres he approaches; Choice
is another in a string of successful albums, with a light and easy feel that will have a broad appeal. One can only wonder what he will do next.