BRIAN BROMBERG; Thicker Than Water (Artistry)

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Brian Bromberg is an American jazz bassist with an enviable CV. He started off way back working with Stan Getz, and has since gone on to play alongside some of the biggest names in jazz and soul. As a leader, Brian’s recorded over 20 albums and ‘Thicker Than Water’ is the latest in his catalogue. His status is such that when he goes into the studio he can call on plenty of big names to help him craft his musical ideas. So, on this 13 tracker you can enjoy the artistry of people like Randy Brecker, Marion Meadows, Najee, Everette Harp, Lenny Castro, Paul Jackson Jr, Brandon Fields and Gary Meek. In a poignant moment, there’s also a cameo from George Duke. The keyboard maestro features on ‘Uh, Uh’ – a mid-tempo jazzy/soul groove that also has input from Randy Brecker, Bromberg believes that the track is one of the last performances from Duke. His sparkling electric piano solo is as you’d expect.

Amongst the other album highlights is the opener, ‘Is That The Best You Can Do’ – a funky, deep rumble that recalls those classic collaborations between Marcus Miller and David Sanborn. Everette Harp is the featured soloist on this one. Ballad highlight is the gentle ‘Your Eyes’ (sweet keys from Brian Zink) while Brian pays homage to Japan on ‘Land Of Rising Sun’; Bromberg (like many smooth jazzers, is “big in Japan”). The track is led by Hiroshima’s June Kuramoto on koto and also features bamboo flute fills courtesy of Mark Hollingsworth. ‘Minneapolis 1987’ is another tribute piece; this time to people like Prince and Jam and Lewis.

This is, though, a Brian Bromberg album and he allows himself plenty of scope to highlight his own musicianship via number of solos – the intros to ‘Coup De Ville’ and ‘It’s Called Life’ and the closing ‘A Familia’ – a 2 minute plus upright bass master class.

For those who like to know these things, ‘Thicker Than Water’s’ 13 tracks are all originals and there are no vocals. It’s out now on Artistry.

(BB) 3/5