David Bromberg has had a fifty–five year recording career and his music still sounds fresh and new. His 1971 self-titled album on Columbia began his recording career after he received acclaim working with many famed artists. Bromberg has had a great solo career over the years and has added his talents on stringed instruments to notables like Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Carly Simon, the Eagles, Bonnie Raitt, and Willie Nelson (to name a few). He went on hiatus for many years to learn how to play and repair violins. He is now regularly recording again, mixing his great musicianship, charm and humor in his recordings and their packaging.
Living in Wilmington, Delaware, this CD was recorded by Bromberg at Milan Hill Studio in New York with other work in Woodstock and Rhinebeck, NY. Mark McKenna got the idea for the album and Mark Cosgrove joins Bromberg on guitar for each track. He and Butch Amiot (bass), Josh Kanusky (drums) and Bill Payne (keys) make up the primary quintet for this production. Nate Grower on fiddle is a phenomenal addition for his tracks as are the horn section arranged by Larry Campbell (who produced the album) and Peter Ecklund on track 9. The horns are Steve Bernstein (trumpet), Lou Marini (sax; clarinet on track 9), and Birch Johnson (trombone).
Bromberg starts us off with Robert Johnson’s “Walkin’ Blues,” stridently showing off the results of his voice lessons along with some stellar solo guitar work. He follows with “How Come My Dog Don’t Bark When You Come Round,” an old blues classic that Bromberg handles with great chops. The guitar solo is clean and crisp, the fiddle solo is gritty and cool, and the added horns are slick. George “Little Hat” Jones’ “Kentucky Blues” takes us acoustic with the fiddle crowing and the mandolin added for an authentic front porch or jug band sound. “Why Are People Like That?” is a Muddy waters tune written by Bobby Johnson which gets a nice cover by Bromberg, the organ and the big horn sound. Bromberg picks out some dirty electric guitar while Payne’s organ adds a great touch. David goes solo acoustic on Ray Charles’ “A Fool For You,” a tasteful and interesting take on this standard. He sets things up with beautiful guitar picking and then gives an emotional vocal performance. Sonny Boy Williamson #2’s “Eyesight to the Blind” gets a nice jumping cover with great organ, fiddle and guitar work.
“900 Miles” is a driving and vibrant cover of the old tune; Bromberg really has a feel for stuff like this, and a little slide makes it even better. “Yield Not to Temptation” takes us to church. It’s a driving Gospel tune that was done by Bobby Blue Bland and the trio of Tracy Nelson, Marcia Ball and Irma Thomas on Sing It! Bromberg gives the props in the notes, but his version is a winner, too. Next is the Bessie Smith cut “”You’ve Been A Good Ole Wagon” done very traditionally. The clarinet is a beautiful touch along with the horns and powerful backing vocals by Nancy Josephson, Teresa Williams and Kathleen Weber and tambourine by Juston Guip. “Delia” is an acoustic guitar duo piece with Larry Campbell also on guitar and slide; it’s a beautifully done ballad.
The title track has Bromberg testifying his blues in a song that depicts a court room trial of his relationship. It’s a fun cut and well done with the horns again in place making for a larger production. The album was entitled this and was completed when they stumbled on the song of the same name by Gary Nicholson and Russell Smith, so they went back and added it! Two original conclude the CD, “This Month” and ‘You Don’t Have to Go.” The former is deep, slow blues where the guitar and organ interplay and get you rocking in your seat with feeling; Bromberg ‘s vocals testify sweetly here. The latter is straight up Chicago blues with nice piano and guitar and the fiddle is added for fun. Well done!
This is a super CD by a great and talented set of artists. The fun they had making it really comes out in their music- it is a joy to listen to! I highly recommend David Bromberg’s new CD to all blues fans!