May 24, 2024

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CD review: Brian Bromberg – The Magic Of Moonlight – 2023: Video, CD cover

GRAMMY® award-nominated bassist and composer Brian Bromberg has announced his new album The Magic Of Moonlight will be released on July 28 via Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Music Group. Along with the announcement, he also shared the single “Nico’s Groove,” which was written for renowned smooth jazz guitarist Nick Colionne, who passed away on New Year’s Day, 2022 at the age of just 55. Colionne had recorded with Bromberg on his previous record, A Little Driving Music, and performed with him at the Berks Jazz Fest.

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.

Guided by the music, Brian Bromberg crafts a spirited new set of contemporary jazz tunes that foreground vibe and soulfulness rather than aggressive virtuosity. The Magic of Moonlight is an apt title for this evocative piece of work which is deeply imbued with the shadow-cloaked mystery and twilight romance of an evening under the full moon.

Like its namesake, The Magic of the Moonlight has mysterious vibes and spirituality along with feel-good, positive energy that I can’t wait to share with you. If you like Choices and Thicker Than Water, then you’ll love this album!

“The song is full of life and energy, which really sums Nick up,” Bromberg says. “It felt good to be able to dedicate something to him because he was such a sweetheart of a cat.”

The Magic of Moonlight is both an evocative and an apt title for this latest outing; as opposed to its predecessor, the freewheeling, open-road feel of A Little Driving Music, Bromberg’s latest album is deeply imbued with the shadow-cloaked mystery and twilight romance of an evening under the full moon. The feeling is also captured on the Magic Hour wonder of “The Pink Moment,” the nickname for the multi-hued sunset on the Topatopa Mountains near Bromberg’s home outside Ojai, California.

“There’s a little bit of mystique in the moonlight,” Bromberg muses. “This album has some mysterious vibes and spirituality along with the feel-good, positive energy, so the name just seemed to fit.”

Originally from Tucson, Arizona, Bromberg started out on the drums before switching to the bass at the behest of his junior high school band director – though that driving, rhythmic foundation has remained a core component of Bromberg’s sound. With the help of bass great Marc Johnson, then touring as a member of the Bill Evans Trio, Bromberg landed a gig with the legendary saxophonist Stan Getz in late 1979, when he was just 19 years old.

Bromberg has hardly stopped for a moment’s breath since then. In the ensuing decades he’s performed, recorded or toured with a stunning roster of artists across a spectrum of genres. While it might be easier to list the names that he hasn’t played with, a partial list of collaborators will have to suffice: Joshua Redman, Roy Hargrove, Sarah Vaughan, Bob James, George Benson, Lionel Hampton, Chris Botti, Najee, Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, Diana Krall, Dizzy Gillespie, Josh Groban, Mike Stern, Dave Koz, Sting, Michael Brecker, Stanley Clarke, Stanley Jordan – even Jerry Lewis. And that’s just scratching the surface.

1986’s A New Day launched Bromberg’s solo career, while his follow-up, Basses Loaded, cemented his place in the front ranks of bass innovators. In the years to follow he released a series of acoustic jazz projects alternating with more electric contemporary outings. He recorded tributes to Jaco Pastorius, Jimi Hendrix and Antonio Carlos Jobim and fronted a full orchestra. Throughout he’s captivated audiences and fellow musicians with his staggering agility on an array of basses: four- and five-string axes, hollowbody electric, acoustic, and the piccolo bass, on which his shredding solos rival the speed and versatility of any electric guitar wizard.

The Magic of Moonlight features an all-star roster of guests tailored to the music that Bromberg has devised for the sessions, supplementing a core band that includes drummers Joel Taylor and Tony Moore, keyboardist Tom Zink, guitarist Gannin Arnold and percussionist Lenny Castro. Smooth jazz sax superstar Everette Harp graces three tunes, playing tenor on the title track and the breezy, wind-in-your-hair “Last Day of Summer,” and soprano on the tender “The Third Child,” lovingly dedicated to Bromberg’s sister. Fusion sax great Gary Meek, well known for his long association with Airto Moreira and Flora Purim, adds his sinuous soprano to the winsome “Just Another Beautiful Day.” Charlie Bisharat’s mesmerizing violin and Grant Geissman’s sitar guitar combine to add a tinge of otherworldliness to the fusion-driven exoticism of “The Orient Express,” while Lin Rountree’s muted trumpet is the sassy topper on the attitude-fueled funk of “So, You Think You’re All That?”

Though few instrumentalists could combine spellbinding musicianship with entrancing songcraft quite like Bromberg, The Magic of Moonlight is another left-field surprise in a discography full of them. “It’s impossible for me to make the same record twice,” Bromberg shrugs. “I like to surprise people. The music comes first.”

1. The Magic of Moonlight (6:40)
2. Nico’s Groove (6:57)
3. A New Dawn (3:41)
4. So, You Think You’re All That? (5:44)
5. Just Another Beautiful Day (6:53)
6. Last Day of Summer (6:02)
7. The Third Child (5:39)
8. The Orient Express (6:49)
9. Bedtime Story (5:20)
10. The Pink Moment (5:49)
11. In the Hands of God (7:39)

Brian Bromberg – Kiesel B2 4 electric bass, Kiesel B2 5 electric bass, keyboard programming, horn arrangement
Tom Zink – keyboards, piano
Tony Moore – drums
Lenny Castro – percussion
Ray Fuller – rhythm guitar
Tony Guerrero – muted trumpet, flugelhorn
Michael Stever – trumpet
Andrew Neu – saxes
Nick Lane – trombone
Nathan Tanouye – horn arrangement


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