Brain Bromberg

Brian's application, that evening, of his vast range of techniques on a double bass fashioned by 18th century master craftsmen, Matteo Guersam, produced in me an effect I can only describe as a 'brombardment'. Brian's pizzicato and slapping, along with his trademark two-handed tapping, aroused the admiration of all in the audience. His knowledge of the instrument's phenomenal potential and his level of musicianship have taken him to the highest ranks in the history of double-bass players.

Brian played with his trio on that evening, onstage at the Zanzibar Club, Philadelphia - himself, pianist Andy Laverne and drummer David Bromberg (who is, incidentally, Brian's brother). They opened the set with Strayhorn's 'Caravan' - the version featured on the 'Wood II' album. Without going into boring detail, I was sitting at the front table, some three metres from the bassist (apologies for this detail) and I listened closely to every sound produced by his fingers. I saw no mistakes. The trio produced a similar sound to that on the album, but with added spontaneity. I should add that Brian played throughout with his eyes closed (?).

His wonderful intonation and knowledge of the instrument was well appreciated by the audience. The finale was Brian's solo performance of the Beatles' number, 'Come Together'. It was interesting that, in terms of interpretation, it was more effective than the album version (long live the maestro's vivid imagination!) Like it or not, it called to mind Salman Gambarov's rendering in Baku in September 2006, and a thought entered my head - "If these two musicians played 'Come Together' on the same stage, they would produce a fantastic sound."

After the concert I was honoured to have the opportunity to talk to Mr Bromberg. Despite his rather sad expression, I came to see that he is a sociable and pleasant interviewee.

EG: Thank you Brian for such brilliant show. Finally I was able to witness your performance Live!

BB: Thank you very much for coming, It means a lot to me to see my shows to be sold out. I don't know what you witnessed (laughs), but I tried.

EG: I have no doubt. So, this is how your wonderful double bass of 18th century sounds in real life?

BB: Oh yeah! This is Matteo Guersam made in early 1700's. I am very proud of it. It has an amazingly reach sound.

EG: Yes indeed. By the way, I read that you replicated this instrument using modern technology and actually built one. Is that true, and if so, how close did you come to the original in terms of sound?

BB: Yes, it's true, and we actually sold one already. As far as the sound, it came out so well, that I decided to keep one copy for myself as backup.

EG: What projects are you currently working on?

BB: I am working on a big project based on the songs of Antonio Carlos Jobim which along with the rhythm section involves big band and string section.

EG: Sounds interesting. When should we expect this album on the shelves?

BB: Well, as soon as I get home tonight and finish strings arrangement (laughs). Seriously, I don't know. Projects of this size involve financial as well as administrative issues and problems. Hopefully soon. But in the meantime you can enjoy my new CD 'Downright Upright'.

EG: Wait a minute, I already purchased this CD a few months ago!

BB: You probably purchased the Japanese version of it. However I reissued this CD for the US market.

EG: And is there any substantional difference between these two versions?

BB: Absolutely. I remixed 8 out of 10 tracks and added some trumpet solos. If you have the old version, you will appreciate the difference.

EG: I am looking forward to adding this one to my collection of your works. I also recently purchased Randy Waldman's 'Timing is everything' and Jeff Berlin's 'Ace of Bass'. What do you think about these musicians?

BB: I love working with Randy, he is a perfectionist. And Jeff is unbelievable. I still don't understand how he plays those fantastic chops on bass (laughs).

EG: Brian, I originally come from Baku, Azerbaijan the city with very old jazz traditions, where we annually hold an international jazz festival, among others we hosted Herbie Hancock and Al Jarreau. I would really like to have you there next year. I know that our jazz aficionados would highly appreciate your talent.

BB: It sounds very interesting and I am very intrigued by your invitation. Please contact me directly in advance as soon as you know dates.

EG: Certainly. Thank you very much for interesting conversation. It was a pleasure meeting you.

BB: Thank you, the pleasure is all mine. I am here for you.