The jazz world has long known what a special talent guitarist Bobby Broom is. That’s what having Sonny Rollins pluck you out of high school to play with him at Carnegie Hall will do for you. But his emergence as a leader in his adopted city of Chicago still has been one of the local jazz scene’s brightest highlights. Broom has risen to the top of his craft the time-honored way: through regular appearances with his exceptional longstanding trio, including the irreplaceable bassist Dennis Carroll, and a smart variety of first-rate recordings.
Devoting albums to Monk classics or standards is a familiar ploy for jazz artists in need of a handy concept. But Broom has raised the bar on them with such efforts as his inspired set of pop covers, Stand!; his tribute to a master, Bobby Broom Plays For Monk; and his stunning new non-standard standards album, My Shining Hour. And then there is his heartfelt ode to his Harlem upbringing, Upper West Side Story, a collection of original compositions.
As for his utterly distinctive flatpick attack, with its unique phrasing, subtle reflection of R&B styles and love of open spaces: “Every modern jazz guitarist in Chicago is indebted to Bobby Broom,” wrote Jeff Parker, one of the finest in that class, in the program notes for a 2011 concert in Europe. The remarkable cohesion of Broom’s trio, including the sensational young drummer Makaya McCraven, also is a testament to Broom’s artistry.