Veteran producer and bassist Brian Bromberg has made quite the name for himself over the course of the past four decades. He has worked on records from the likes of Stan Getz, Arturo Sandoval, and Billy Cobham as well as others while also adding his work to various soundtracks and compilations, and working on his own records. The records overall, are notable in their own right. Each record has cemented his place within the jazz (and overall music) community in its own right. Now Friday, Bromberg will continue to cement his reputation when he releases his new album, A Little Driving Music. Set for release through Mack Avenue Music Group and Artistry Music, the 13-song record is a wonderful presentation. That is proven in large part through the record’s musical arrangements. They will be discussed shortly. While the album’s content does plenty to make it so engaging and entertaining, it is not a perfect presentation. The lack of any liner notes offering any background on the compositions detracts from the presentation to a point. It is not enough to make the record a failure, but cannot be ignored, either. This will be discussed at more length a little later. The sequencing of the record’s songs works with the compositions to make up for the shortcoming of the concerns raised by the lack of background information on the songs. When it is considered with that one negative and the positive of the songs themselves, the whole makes the album still a presentation that Bromberg’s fans and music lovers in general will appreciate.
Brian Bromberg’s forthcoming album A Little Driving Music is a widely appealing presentation that audiences will enjoy whether they are out for a drive or at home simply relaxing. That is proven in part through its featured arrangements. The arrangements are diverse in their stylistic approaches. Bromberg does not limit them to just jazz compositions. The 72-minute record opens with an infectious, old school funk style work in ‘Froggy’s.’ That funk vibe continues in ‘Quarantine,’ which Bromberg wrote (along with the album’s other songs during lockdown – this will be addressed later). From there, Bromberg takes things in a different direction in ‘That Cool, Groovy Beatnik Jazz’ with a more reggae-tinged stylistic approach and sound. That paired with the easy listening jazz style sound also present here, the pairing makes the song in whole so enjoyable in its own way. The tropical feel continues on in ‘Bado Boy!,’ but eventually gives way to the more pop style approach to Bromberg and company’s cover of ‘Walking on Sunshine.’ The unique approach here, complete with a subtle soprano sax line, bass, and funky drum beat, makes for so much enjoyment. The addition of the easy listening jazz influence to the mix makes for even more enjoyment. The diverse sounds and styles continue on from there. The bluesy approach and sound of ‘A Rainy Day in Paris’ holds is own against the more active body of the record. It also makes for a great break point in the sequencing, which will also be discussed later. If that is not enough for audiences, the album’s title track gives audiences a little bit of a John Denver/Jimmy Buffet sense while ‘Jedediah’s Gold’ conjures thoughts of Dave Matthews Band. ‘Baton Rouge,’ the penultimate entry in Bromberg’s new record, clearly pays tribute to the music of New Orleans with its laid back sound and stylistic approach. Bromberg’s cool, relaxed bass line alongside the subtle horns and solid time keeping makes this song one of the record’s most notable works (at least in this critic’s ears and mind). It should be clear at this point that this album’s musical arrangements offer audiences a wide amount of diversity. They are not just jazz tunes. Rather, they keep things interesting in their own right, as do the performances thereof. Keeping that in mind, it creates a sold foundation for the album’s presentation. While the diversity in the arrangements goes a long way toward making this record successful, the lack of background information in the liner notes does detract from the record’s presentation.
This critic has noted many times in the past that when it comes to instrumental jazz, the songs are interesting. However, without some kind of background to help explain the songs’ inspirations, it lessens the overall listening experience. Unlike mainstream music, which follows generally well-known themes of relationships, politics, personal matters, etc. instrumental jazz does not have lyrics to follow. To that end, the need of some background is important. That is even if given songs follow the noted themes. Having background information can heighten the enjoyment because it helps listeners to understand and appreciate the moods in given arrangements, and even the instrumentations, etc. So to that end, the lack of any background on this record’s songs, which are already enjoyable in their own right, does detract from their enjoyment. Luckily that detraction is hardly enough to make the album a failure. It just would have been a great final touch to the record’s presentation.
Getting back to the songs featured in A Little Driving Music, their sequencing rounds out the record’s presentation. As already noted, the songs feature a wide range of sounds and stylistic approaches. From the funk and R&B sounds presented early on to the reggae influence also exhibited early, to the more pop approach of the album’s one cover, and the easy listening and even pop rock sounds, the album offers audiences much to appreciate. Those sounds and stylistic approaches are themselves spread out across the album’s body. At no point does Bromberg stick to one style and sound. The result is that with this aspect alone, audiences will remain engaged and entertained throughout.
The album’s sequencing also plays into its pacing through the songs’ energies. As noted prior, the album’s run time is 72 minutes. That means it is anything but a short presentation. What is so interesting here is that even with that run time in mind, the sequencing takes into account the songs’ energies and styles together. There are plenty of up-tempo works featured here alongside some slightly more relaxed works, and even some even more cool, relaxed works, such as in ‘Baton Rouge,’ ‘Peace,’ and ‘A Rainy Day in Paris.’ The placement of those three songs along the more moving compositions featured throughout the record keeps the energy flowing fluidly throughout. The result of that and the constantly changing styles and sounds is that even at 72 minutes in length, the album moves seamlessly from one song to the next. By the time it ends, listeners will be left feeling fulfilled. When this finalizing element is considered along with the positive impact of the album’s varied musical sounds and styles and even the slightly detracting lack of liner notes, the whole makes A Little Driving Music more than a little enjoyable.
Brian Bromberg’s forthcoming album, A Little Driving Music, is a positive new offering from the veteran producer/bassist. Its success comes in large part through the variety in its arrangements. The variety is in relation to the songs’ sounds and stylistic approaches. The songs are enjoyable in themselves, and would have been even more engaging and entertaining had they had some background information (even something brief) to accompany them in the album’s liner notes. That is not to say that the lack thereof makes the album a failure. Rather, it just would have been nice to have had that as part of the record’s overall presentation. The album’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements. It takes into account the diversity in the songs’ arrangements and the diversity in their energies to ensure listeners’ engagement and entertainment. The result is that the 72-minute presentation moves fluidly from beginning to end, never leaving listeners feeling left behind or bored. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of A Little Driving Music. All things considered, they make the album enjoyable whether audiences are listening while driving or at home. A Little Driving Music is scheduled for release Friday through Mac Avenue Music Group and Artistry Music. More information on the album is available along with all of Brian Bromberg’s latest news at:
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