Happy Birthday to Brian Bromberg – born December 5, 1960
Brian Bromberg is an American jazz bassist and record producer who performs on both electric and acoustic instruments. Though he tends to gravitate towards the genre of smooth jazz, Bromberg has released some straight-ahead jazz records in which he performs with a trio, and has even ventured into more rock-oriented jazz fusion territory as of late. His innovative and technically demanding style of playing extends to both electric and upright bass. On his acoustic bass albums, Bromberg performs jazzy interpretations of various pop and rock staples from the 1960s and ’70s completely solo. Regarding his work with electric bass, Bromberg, among other bassists, helped popularize the piccolo bass, or bass with each string tuned an octave up, by releasing several albums in which he plays both the bass line and melody. For instance, upon first listen many will be surprised to learn that, although soaring guitar can be heard throughout the album, Bromberg’s 2005 release Metal contains only Bromberg on two overdubbed basses, one of which is heavily effects-laden to make it sound like an electric guitar.
Releases as a solo artist
Bromberg’s first several albums were of the smooth jazz variety. He began with two records that caught smooth jazz radio’s attention: A New Day in 1986 and Basses Loaded in 1988. His third effort, 1989’s Magic Rain “became the most played album on radio during the first week of its release”. Bromberg’s fourth record, BASSically Speaking, which is technically his oldest material re-mastered with some new additions, went top 5 on the radio charts and reached 7th on the Billboard sales charts.
At this point, Bromberg had a solid following among smooth jazz fans, which caused him to want to shift gears a little and put out a straight ahead jazz record. His fifth release was the aptly named, It’s About Time, The Acoustic Project. This is an all-acoustic jazz record that reached number four on the mainstream jazz charts in 1991. Here, Bromberg is content with a trio that includes Freddie Hubbard and Ernie Watts. The warm tone of Bromberg’s upright bass is very present in the mix, but never reaches a point where it infringes on the other instruments’ space.
After It’s About Time, The Acoustic Project Bromberg returned to making more modern smooth jazz music. His next record, Brian Bromberg (1993), was unsuccessful because the label endorsing it went out of business the week of its release.