Due out June 5 on Mack Avenue Records, ‘Compared To That’ will be bass player Brian Bromberg’s 20th solo collection. Including eight of his own compositions, a ten-piece horn section, a full orchestral string section and a prodigious collective of supporting musicians this is an album that will appeal both to fans of contemporary jazz and those who allude to having a more straight ahead disposition. With the likes of Randy Brecker, George Duke, Mitch Forman, Jeff Lorber, Gary Meek and Tom Zink all involved, ‘Compared To That’ was recorded over two frenetic days and provides the overriding impression that here is a group of musicians at the top of their game and having fun.
A case in point is the dazzlingly swinging title cut which showcases a variety of jazz styles in the way only a few can. Fortunately Bromberg is one of them and from the intensely jazzy ‘Rory Lowery, Private Eye’ to a swinging take on the Chicago hit, ‘Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?’ everything is done to the highest standard imaginable.
With little more than piano and Bromberg’s distinctive bass ‘If Ray Brown Were A Cowboy?’ is a fine example of how less can sometimes be more and although the lilting melody of ‘Forgiveness’ provides a tranquil moment that is truly to savor, Bromberg is quickly ‘back in the swing’ with the brass drenched ‘I’m Just Sayin’.
If the title ‘Hayride’ suggests that country music might be on the agenda then that assumption would be correct. Despite jazz and country being somewhat strange bedfellows Bromberg makes it work to perfection and the funky kind of big band thing he generates with ‘A Little New Old School’ is enhanced in no small measure by tenor sax from Gary Meek. Elsewhere the complex ‘The Eclipse’ will satisfy jazz purists everywhere but the eclectic nature of ‘Compared To That’ is again demonstrated with the closing number, a daring re-imagining of the Rick James 1981 hit ‘Give It To Me Baby’. Go check out the original on YouTube to see just how different this Bromberg version is.
‘Compared To That’ is certainly Bromberg’s most jazzy project since ‘Downright Upright’ but nevertheless is a fine example of how his visionary approach can create moods that transcend musical styles.