June 2, 2016 by Helen Borgers

“This album is just a swinging, in-your-face traditional jazz album with simple tunes that are easy to sing along with and remember, but have a foundation in hardcore ‘real’ jazz.” – Brian Bromberg, talking about Full Circle. (all pictures courtesy of Brian Bromberg)


That is where it all started for Brian: acoustic, straight-ahead jazz. His father, Howard Bromberg, was a jazz drummer. Brian’s brother was also a drummer. So, it was as natural as breathing for young Brian to start beating on the furniture at the age of 2 ½. In elementary school, it became obvious that he had an impressive talent for music, and his parents encouraged him to take on an additional instrument, radically different from drums, to give him a chance to play melodies. He took up the cello, but, as there were many cellists and the orchestra needed a bassist, he was eventually persuaded by his school orchestra director to play the bass.

Brian Bromberg on drums 

By 7th grade, he was a professional drummer, playing in all kinds of settings:  marching in parades, playing in rock, pop, and country bands, and performing with symphonies. He was listening to everything from Stravinsky to Miles Davis to Led Zeppelin. As time went on, though, he became devoted to performing acoustic jazz on bass. Bill Evans’ bassist, Marc Johnson, heard Brian play and, when Stan Getz asked Marc if he knew of any good young players, Marc recommended Brian.

At age 18, Brian left Tucson, Arizona—the land of his birth—and flew to New York to audition for Getz. He got the gig, and spent almost a year on the road, traveling the world with the tenor giant. Brian reflects, “That’s how my bass world started.”

Brian Bromberg with classic bass 

His father had been excited at the prospect of Brian playing bass; he looked forward to playing jazz with his son. Unfortunately, due to a stroke, he never got the chance.


However, Howard Bromberg had made one recording in the ‘50s, a two-sided acetate of Dixieland tunes—“Jazz Me Blues,” and “Washington & Lee Swing”– and Brian had grown up listening to it. It had no bass player! And Brian dreamed of one day recording the bass on it. When he finished building his own studio, he decided the time had come.  


Howard Bromberg playing drums on "Jazz Me Blues," with Brian Bromberg joining the band on bass!

Recording bass on his father’s tracks was a life-changing experience for Brian. Not only was he essentially playing bass “with” his father’s quintet on tunes that were recorded before Brian was on the planet, but he also found that he and his father had the same “one” – that is, that they shared a sense of time and swing. This discovery made him want to take up the drums again, something he hadn’t done in 35 years!


Feeling his father’s spirit urging him on, Brian wrote the tunes for Full Circle, and played both drums and bass on the recording. He has a few special guests on the disc, including Arturo Sandoval and Kirk Whalum, but throughout the disc is heard Brian’s old friend, and LA-based favorite, reedman Doug Webb.


In a way, featuring Doug is another way in which Brian has come “full circle.” Right after Brian moved to LA in the ‘80s, they played together at the Studio Café. They made Brian’s fusion album, Magic Rain.  In 1988, Doug began working with Freddie Hubbard, to whom he introduced Brian. Both Freddie and Doug played on Brian’s 1991 straight-ahead release, It’s About Time.


Doug not only played on Brian’s new album, but he is also featured in the June issue of JazzTimes! And he will be performing with Brian at the Federal Bar in North Hollywood on Thursday, June 30th, from 6 to 8pm. It’s the CD Release Party! 


We invite YOU to join us for the celebration!  I’ll be the emcee and, for a donation of $88.00, you and a guest will enjoy this exclusive party with Brian and the band, be treated to appetizers, get a copy of the new Full Circle CD, get a tax deduction, and a year’s membership with KJazz (with all the member perks!). There will also be a Q&A with Brian, who is a good story-teller and has a great sense of humor.


The music is perfect for a party. Doug has assembled a 5-piece horn section to join himself on tenor, Tom Zink on piano, Joel Taylor on drums, with the leader, Brian Bromberg, on bass. It’s a terrific horn section:

Jon Papenbrook, trumpet

Bob Summers, trumpet

Ben Jamin, trombone

Rickey Woodard, tenor

Jerry Pinter, alto sax


They’ll be playing music from the new disc, which includes, among other treats, a Zydeco-flavored tune, “Nawlins;” a thoroughly jazzy cover of Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough,” and a Cuban-inspired piece, “Havana Nights” (Brian used to play in Arturo Sandoval’s band and, indeed, Arturo guests on the CD).

 This is an exclusive party to kick off the summer and mark the arrival of a great new disc from bassist, composer, producer, (and  drummer!)…Brian Bromberg!


Sign up for your KJazz membership at the $88.00 level HERE!


On-air personality, Helen Borgers, can be heard on KJazz 88.1 FM from 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday. As a jazz broadcaster, Helen has been invited to give pre-concert lectures at various performing arts centers, served on panels in jazz conventions all over the world, and lectured about the history of jazz in middle schools, high schools, and colleges. She has also written articles for international jazz publications and regularly emcees concerts, festivals, and club dates throughout southern California.

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